FRESH SUMMARY OF NEW YORK’S FORECLOSURE LAWS

FORECLOSURE LAWSRestricted lenders must comply with temporary NYS foreclosure laws protecting homeowners who’ve declared a COVID-19 hardship. Here’s a summary of changes effective May 1, 2021 until August 31, 2021, when statewide foreclosures will resume.

Here to Stay?

The Senate and House Assembly recently passed a legislative suspension of the entire New York State foreclosure eviction process. Enacted last December, the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 expired earlier this month. Two days later, a gubernatorial extension extended the Act retroactively to apply to all residential and commercial mortgage loans affected by loss of income and other disruptive factors related to the health crisis.

Moratoriums are staying for a few more months. Title 13 of New York’s merged laws requires the debtor to file a Declaration of Hardship form and file it with the foreclosing party, agent, or county court. A properly filed hardship declaration qualifies homes loan and forbids:

  • Tax lien sales and tax foreclosures during the suspension period
  • New foreclosure filings, settlement conferences, acceleration and other steps typically involved in a foreclosure
  • Forced sales at auction, Default Judgments, Deficiency Judgments, and removal of owners/mortgagors, occupants, and tenants until August 31, 2021
  • Reporting accounts with missed or severely delinquent payments to credit bureaus, using forbearance or hardship declarations as a reason to deny future credit applications or negatively affect credit ratings

And allow access to other options to mitigate loss or avoid foreclosure, such as these:

  • twelve-month forbearance for non-government backed mortgages
  • Federal aid package of $20,000,000, secured by state officials and allocated for homeowner grants and the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP), an organization created to help connect with programs and agencies that assist with mortgage payments and resources to avoid losing your home.

If you have a pending foreclosure case in progress, you will receive a copy of the Hardship Declaration in the mail. This will come from the court. Newly filed foreclosures require the lender or servicer to send mortgagees aAll legally required pre-foreclosure notices must accompany the form. You may access a blank copy of the Hardship Declaration forms on the Office of Court Administration’s website.

Hardship declaration is an option available for borrowers owning no more than to ten residences, including condos and co-ops. Industry professionals strongly

Opponents of the Act have complained about losses incurred by creditors. They believe the law favors borrowers and denies lenders their constitutional right to have non-payment disputes heard in a court of law. They dismiss counter defenses from supporters, who point to the provisional right of lenders and services to charge and collect interest, late fees, and other penalties set forth in the mortgage agreement.

Times of Lien

New York is a “lien theory” state. What that means is most foreclosures are usually judicial. They begin when a lender has filed a civil lawsuit against the borrower in loan default. It will cause a court case over which a judge presides until a settlement, dismissal or judgment order is affirmed, if appealed.

Sometimes, lenders can use a “non-judicial” type of foreclosure procedure in New York. However, this is rare. It requires an existing “power of sale” clause in the required instruments, which is a Deed the loan recipient executed in the original note. It allows a lender to sell the property on behalf of the borrower, should a default situation arise.

Deal or No Deal?

State law gives the borrower a chance to work things out with the lender. First, the filing party proves they served the complaint to the defendant by one of several means specified by law. They file the verification of service with the clerk’s office. Then, 60 days later, the court schedules a Settlement Conference on their docket. The court will notify you regarding when and where the conference is going to take place, along with what you should bring as documentation. (N.Y. Civil Practice Rule 3408). At the Settlement Conference, the borrower and lender can negotiate a solution to avoid foreclosure.

Money Changes Everything

Per New York property law, they may reinstate a mortgage loan before the Judge will dismiss the lawsuit. The amount the borrower must pay to be reinstated includes fees and costs, besides the past due amount. Also, if you become able to pay that total after judgment is rendered, but before the foreclosure sale takes place, your court case is stayed, and the mortgage is reinstated.

No Givebacks?

In some states, a defaulting borrower has a “redemption” right. This allows a specific amount of time to buy back the residence after a foreclosure sale. The timeframe to redeem a home varies among state, and there are two ways it can be done, depending on the state:

  1. Reimburse the buyer of the home in the amount paid at the sale, plus allowed costs.
  2. Repay the lender the amount of the total mortgage debt owed, plus interest, late fees, and expenses.

Unfortunately, redemption periods aren’t permitted in New York. On the other hand, a foreclosure attorney can give clients peace of mind if they are seeking advice on how to buy a foreclosure in NY.

Are We Even?

Sometimes, residential property is sold for less than the total mortgage debt owed. New York’s Consolidated Laws grant lenders a right to submit a Motion for Deficiency Judgment against the borrower for the remaining difference. The motion must be filed no later than 90 days following the consummation of the sale. Once the deed to the property is delivered to the new owner, they consider the sale consummated by law. The court must follow state law, which determines deficiency as the higher of two amounts:

  • Fair Market Value OR
  • Sales price

The potential for being on the hook for the balance is a good reason to consider hiring a property attorney who is familiar with foreclosure laws in NY and can offer expert advice and legal strategies that minimize or eliminate your liability.

No “R” in Fee

Sadly, there are those who have targeted vulnerable folks in this predicament. Their goal is to gain the equity remaining in a home facing foreclosure and even offer loan modification services for the title to the property at risk. Some fulfill their promises, but that’s irrelevant because it is illegal to offer foreclosure relief for a fee. Homeowners should never have to pay a fee to change a loan or explore options to avoid losing their home. HOPP and the federal government will assist you with no cost. Think about it like this: if you don’t have the money to pay your monthly mortgage payment that’s past due, how will you afford a fee charged for an otherwise free service? It’s money that would be better spent toward the debt or competent legal help.

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is a foreclosure lawyer representing homeowners in foreclosure lawsuits throughout the Metropolitan New York area. He can be reached for a free consultation at 800-344-6431 or e-mail at Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

Foreclosure Defense in Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Baldwin, Malverne, Freeport, Oceanside, Long Beach, Elmont, Lakeview, West Hempstead, Hempstead, Merrick and Bellmore, New York

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