Courts Impact On The Foreclosure Crisis

Many foreclosure actions spend years tied up in court. This is caused by lenders losing the note. Lenders also have been guilty of sloppy record keeping, loss of documentation of their standing to sue and other violations of court rules and statutes.

Foreclosure lawsuits today, in many situations, are not initiated by the original lenders. The parties bringing the foreclosure action received the mortgages after a series of transfers. It is estimated, millions of mortgage notes have been lost or misplaced. For a lender to bring a foreclosure proceeding it must be the holder or the assignee of both the mortgage and the note.

Show Me The Mortgage Note Defense

Defense lawyers in foreclosure actions now utilize a “show me the note” defense. This has allowed defaulting borrowers to hold off the foreclosure proceeding from going forward while the foreclosing lender or servicing organization looks for the note. Sometimes while looking for the note, they ascertain they do not physically hold the note and they cannot find out where it is.

How Courts In New York Handle Cases Involving Lost Mortgage Notes

Courts in New York can proceed with foreclosure proceedings even without a mortgage note. To accomplish this, the lender must show to the Court it owns the note. They must present to the Court the facts preventing the production of the note and present to the Court the terms of the note. The lender has to provide the Court with a detailed explanation of the note’s chain of transfers. This is to prove that the prior note holders had the intention to transfer the mortgage and that the current note owner is the rightful recipient of the mortgage.

Financial Institutions Proving Ownership Of The Notes

For financial institutions to prove the ownership of the note they must produce a valid assignment of the note or, in the alternative, they must show the note was physically hand delivered to them. Determining what actually constitutes the physical delivery of the note may vary on a case to case basis.

Lost Mortgage Notes

If the lender can demonstrate to the Court it owns the note it then must provide the Court with a logical explanation of why the note was lost. The lender has the burden of proving the terms of the lost note. To prove this, the lender must provide the Court with information concerning the name of the last holder of the note, the name of the borrower, the name of the person who signed on behalf of the borrower, the type of note, the effective date of the note, the value of the note, the payment terms of the note, the loan number and currently how much is unpaid under the note. The person providing evidence of this information must have personal knowledge of all of this information.


Lenders have heavy burdens to meet before they can successfully bring foreclosure proceedings in New York State Courts when they can’t produce the note or provide documentation of the assignment of the note.

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