Tag Archives: 521 f. supp. 2d 650

Predatory lending revisited FINANCIAL CODE § 4970

20 Jan
Loans

Image by jferzoco via Flickr

A. INTRODUCTION

Predatory lending has become an insidious financial problem in recent years for thousands of Californians. In any real estate loan, the loan terms and consequences must be adequately disclosed and, more importantly, financially feasible for the borrower. Through “flipping” and “packing,” predatory lenders avoid these two requirements, reaping massive benefits while causing financial ruination for the consumer.

Fortunately for consumers, the California Legislature has recognized the growing problem of predatory lending by adding Division 1.6 to the Financial Code, effective July 1, 2002. This law specifies what constitutes predatory lending and expressly prohibits certain acts. In discussing predatory lending practices in California, this article will demonstrate the potential impact of the new law, and what remedies are now available to those affected by these practices. .

B. DEFINING PREDATORY LENDING

Predatory lending encompasses a variety of practices. The most prevalent of these practices, however, is predatory lending in connection with home mortgage loans. These loans are targeted at homeowners who may be living on fixed or lower incomes, and those who have checkered credit histories.

Unlike most prime loans, subprime mortgage loans are generally based on the equity in a borrower’s house instead of his or her ability to make the scheduled payments. Therefore, problems meeting scheduled payments frequently arise due to the borrower’s lack of liquidity, a problem obviously foreseeable, yet ignored, by the lender. When this occurs, the predatory lender encourages the borrower to refinance the loan into another unaffordable loan, thus increasing the loan amount owed, primarily due to new finance fees. This “refinancing” severely decreases the borrower’s equity in his or her home and is a common practice referred to as “loan flipping.”

Another practice utilized by predatory lenders is “packing.” This is the practice of surreptitiously placing lender-protective credit insurance or other goods and services into consumer loans. For example, a predatory lender will state a fixed monthly payment to the borrower. Upon closure, however, the loan papers will include numerous single premium payment insurance policies which need to be added to the quoted monthly payment. These insurance policies are not mentioned during the loan negotiations as an additional cost. The lender ultimately hopes the borrower will not notice the added charges at all; if, however, the borrower is lucky enough to recognize the hidden costs, predatory lenders are equipped with numerous tactics to force the loan through despite the borrower’s misgivings. The most prevalent tactic is to threaten the closing of the loan by stating that deletion of the challenged costs will either cause delay, or effect the borrower’s loan eligibility. Given the financial situations of most of these borrowers, the threat of not receiving the loan, or even just a delay in the closing of the loan, can be enough to make the borrower forget about the added charges

Although many borrowers become aware of these hidden charges when they receive their first statement, other hidden terms and penalties are included that become apparent only when the borrower decides to get out of the loan.

One of the most potent tools used by predatory lenders to keep borrowers defenseless is the prepayment penalty. According to Standard & Poor’s, subprime loans contain prepayment penalties 80% of the time, while prime loans only 2% of the time. Since it is lower income individuals who are targeted by predatory lenders, the threat of thousands of dollars in prepayment penalties obviates the lenders fear of the borrower prepaying the balance through a more affordable prime loan. The prepayment penalties trap the individual in a long-term unaffordable loan that can only be refinanced by the lender who misrepresented the loan terms in the first place.

Predatory loans can be financially devastating. A borrower owing up to three times as much as he or she has borrowed is not an uncommon occurrence with a sub-prime predatory home mortgage loan.

C. PREDATORY LENDING IN CALIFORNIA

The California Reinvestment Committee (CRC) is currently conducting a study weighing the effect predatory lending has had on Californians. The preliminary findings suggest predatory lending is a very common practice in California:

  • 73% of all borrowers saw key loan terms (e.g. interest rate, fixed versus adjustable mortgage, prepayment penalty) change for the worse at the closing of the loan as compared to what was represented to them;
  • 61% of all borrowers had loans containing prepayment penalty provisions which lock borrowers into bad loans by assessing a fee of several thousand dollars if borrowers pay off their subprime loans early;
  • 64% of borrowers reported refinancing their home loans from two to six times, suggesting widespread “loan flipping” and “equity stripping” by lenders;
  • 39% of borrowers reported that the idea to take out a loan secured by their home came from the marketing of subprime lenders. Aggressive marketing through telephone calls, mailers and broker solicitations, was experienced by most study participants.

Although the study is still in its infancy, the preliminary numbers leave no room for doubt that predatory lending has become a tremendous problem in California and is robbing Californians of millions of dollars. The discrepancies in prime loan interest rates and those offered by the subprime lenders has steadily increased.

Subprime lenders state that they serve a very important function, mainly providing credit to borrowers with imperfect credit histories. However, it is this exact premise, the supposed benevolence of subprime lending, on which predatory lenders rely to justify their practices, thereby blending financially feasible subprime lending into predatory lending. Financial Code § 4970 is California’s remedy to this problem.

D. BASIC PROVISIONS OF FINANCIAL CODE § 4970

California Financial Code § 4970 et seq. became effective on July 1, 2002. This law recognizes the need for more stringent regulations on consumer loans secured by specified real property, defined as “covered loans.” The effect of the bill was best summed up by the Legislative Counsel’s digest, which states:

The law prohibits various acts in making covered loans, including the following:

  • Failing to consider the financial ability of a borrower to repay the loan
  • Financing specified types of credit insurance into a consumer loan transaction
  • Recommending or encouraging a consumer to default on an existing consumer loan in order to solicit or make a covered loan that refinances the consumer loan
  • Making a covered loan without providing the consumer specified disclosure

Moreover, this law expressly defines the relationship between the broker and the borrower as a fiduciary relationship, thereby placing a legal duty on the broker to act in the borrower’s best interest.Furthermore, the newly enacted provisions clearly lay out strong incentives for attorneys to vigorously prosecute predatory lending. Under California Financial Code § 4978, these incentives include mandatory attorney fees, the award of punitive damages, and the greater of either actual damages or statutorily prescribed damages when the violation is “willful and knowing.”

(a) A person who fails to comply with the provisions of this division is civilly liable to the consumer in an amount equal to actual damages suffered by the consumer, plus attorney’s fees and costs. For a willful and knowing violation of this division, the person shall be liable to the consumer in the amount of $15,000.00 or the consumer’s actual damages, whichever is greater, plus attorneys’ fees and costs…..

(b)(2). A court may, in addition to any other remedy, award punitive damages to the consumer upon a finding that such damages are warranted pursuant to Section 3294 of the Civil Code.

Accordingly, if either an express violation of this section or abuse of the fiduciary relationship between broker and borrower is established, private attorneys and their clients are now equipped with statutory power to obtain redress.

Although California Financial Code § 4970 paints with a broad stroke, with its specificity, predatory lenders will undoubtedly find loopholes in the regulations. Fortunately for California consumers, actions for predatory lending can also be brought under the very expansive state consumer protection statutes, such as Business and Professions Code §17200.

E. WAYS TO AVOID PREDATORY LENDING

In addition to discussing remedial measures for predatory lending, it is important to also discuss ways in which individuals can avoid receiving a predatory loan.

The first way to avoid predatory lending is to comparison shop different lenders to find the best deal. As predatory lenders would have them believe, borrowers with credit problems think that only by paying exorbitant interest rates can they qualify for a loan. However, the truth is that up to 50% of those people who receive predatory loans would actually qualify for a prime loan. The most practical way to remedy this problem is for a borrower to obtain a credit history report and have it analyzed by a disinterested third party. By doing this, the borrower will know when a predatory lender is being untruthful about the type of loan for which he or she will qualify due to credit problems.

Second, when applying for a loan, keep an eye out for common misrepresentations that are indicative of predatory loans. For example, the lender states that the loan has the flexibility of an open line of credit, or the lender requires credit insurance, claiming it is the only way the borrower will qualify for the loan. Next, the consumer should ask to see the lender’s published rates on fees and points.

Finally, the consumer should look for terms and conditions that will trap him or her into the loan. As discussed above, prepayment clauses are indicative of a predatory loan. The reasoning behind prepayment clauses is to keep borrowers from refinancing into a prime loan once they learn the financial reality of their current loan. Furthermore, when a borrower is offered a loan that is “asset based”(10), he or she should demand to be told what affect such a loan could have on the asset’s equity.

CONCLUSION

It is important for attorneys to utilize all available tools at their discretion to curb harm resulting from predatory lending. California Finance Code § 4970 is a powerful new tool for litigators. Equipped with this new tool and California Business & Professions Code 17200, California attorneys should be eager to assist the victims of predatory lending.

In addition, it is important for the consumer to learn ways to spot predatory lending terms and conditions. By seeking the advice of counsel when applying for a loan, one may be able to avoid financial pitfalls down the road.

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no recoded asignment no power of sale (foreclosure)2932.5

26 Dec

Mortgages with a power of sale as a form of security, although such powers of sale are strictly construed (Savings & Loan Soc. v. Burnett, 106 Cal. 514 [39 P. 922]), are not looked upon with disfavor in California. (Godfrey v. Monroe, 101 Cal. 224 [35 P. 761].) Indeed, such powers of sale are expressly permitted by section 2932 of the Civil Code, and since July 27, 1917, the exercise of such powers has been carefully regulated. (Civ. Code, sec. 2924.) In this connection we should also bear in mind section 858 of the Civil Code, which reads as follows: “Where a power to sell real property is given to a mortgagee, or other encumbrancer, in an instrument intended to secure the payment of money, the power is to be deemed a part of the security, and vests in any person who, by assignment, becomes entitled to the money so secured to be paid, and may be executed by him whenever the assignment is duly acknowledged and recorded.” This indicates to some extent that California intended that such a power of sale survives until the debt is paid or barred by the statute of limitations. [13 Cal.App.2d 239]

unperfected mortgage goes away in Bankruptcy and here is how it was done

20 Dec

Yes in San Jose an unperfected Mortgage was don away with the perfect storm.
1. COMPLAINT2. MEMOR. IN SUPPORT OF APPLICATION FOR RESTRAINING ORDER3. APPLICATION FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER4. REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE5. OPPOSITION TO MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM THE AUTOMATIC STAY6. DECLARATION OF ISABEL7. NOTICE OF HEARING

How to Stop Foreclosure

5 Dec

This is general information and assumes that you have access to the rest of the material on the blog. Foreclosures come in various flavors.

First of all you have non-judicial and judicial foreclosure states. Non-judicial basically means that instead of signing a conventional mortgage and note, you signed a document that says you give up your right to a judicial proceeding. So the pretender lender or lender simply instructs the Trustee to sell the property, giving you some notice. Of course the question of who is the lender, what is a beneficiary under a deed of trust, what is a creditor and who owns the loan NOW (if anyone) are all issues that come into play in litigation.

In a non-judicial state you generally are required to bring the matter to court by filing a lawsuit. In states like California, the foreclosers usually do an end run around you by filing an unlawful detainer as soon as they can in a court of lower jurisdiction which by law cannot hear your claims regarding the illegality of the mortgage or foreclosure.

In a judicial state the forecloser must be the one who files suit and you have considerably more power to resist the attempt to foreclose.

Then you have stages:

STAGE 1: No notice of default has been sent.

In this case you want to get a forensic analysis that is as complete as humanly possible — TILA, RESPA, securitization, title, chain of custody, predatory loan practices, fraud, fabricated documents, forged documents etc. I call this the FOUR WALL ANALYSIS, meaning they have no way to get out of the mess they created. Then you want a QWR (Qualified Written Request) and DVL (Debt Validation Letter along with complaints to various Federal and State agencies. If they fail to respond or fail to answer your questions you file a suit against the party who received the QWR, the party who originated the loan (even if they are out of business), and John Does 1-1000 being the owners of mortgage backed bonds that are evidence of the investors ownership in the pool of mortgages, of which yours is one. The suit is simple — it seeks to stop the servicer from receiving any payments, install a receiver over the servicer’s accounts, order them to answer the simple question “Who is my creditor and how do I get a full accounting FROM THE CREDITOR? Alternative counts would be quiet title and damages under TILA, RESPA, SEC, etc.

Tactically you want to present the forensic declaration and simply say that you have retained an expert witness who states in his declaration that the creditor does not include any of the parties disclosed to you thus far. This [prevents you from satisfying the Federal mandate to attempt modification or settlement of the loan. You’ve asked (QWR and DVL) and they won’t tell. DON’T GET INTO INTRICATE ARGUMENTS CONCERNING SECURITIZATION UNTIL IT IS NECESSARY TO DO SO WHICH SHOULD BE AFTER A FEW HEARINGS ON MOTIONS TO COMPEL THEM TO ANSWER.

IN OTHER WORDS YOU ARE SIMPLY TELLING THE JUDGE THAT YOUR EXPERT HAS PRESENTED FACTS AND OPINION THAT CONTRADICT AND VARY FROM THE REPRESENTATIONS OF COUNSEL AND THE PARTIES WHO HAVE BEEN DISCLOSED TO YOU THUS FAR.

YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO THE OTHER PARTIES ARE, IF ANY, AND WHAT MONEY EXCHANGED HANDS WITH RESPECT TO YOUR LOAN. YOU WANT EVIDENCE, NOT REPRESENTATIONS OF COUNSEL. YOU WANT DISCOVERY OR AN ORDER TO ANSWER THE QWR OR DVL. YOU WANT AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING IF IT IS NECESSARY.

Avoid legal argument and go straight for discovery saying that you want to be able to approach the creditor, whoever it is, and in order to do that you have a Federal Statutory right (RESPA) to the name of a person, a telephone number and an address of the creditor — i.e., the one who is now minus money as a result of the funding of the loan. You’ve asked, they won’t answer.

Contemporaneously you want to get a temporary restraining order preventing them from taking any further action with respect to transferring, executing documents, transferring money, or collecting money until they have satisfied your demand for information and you have certified compliance with the court. Depending upon your circumstances you can offer to tender the monthly payment into the court registry or simply leave that out.

You can also file a bankruptcy petition especially if you are delinquent in payments or are about to become delinquent.

STAGE 2: Notice of Default Received

Believe it or not this is where the errors begin by the pretender lenders. You want to challenge authority, authenticity, the amount claimed due, the signatory, the notary, the loan number and anything else that is appropriate. Then go back to stage 1 and follow that track. In order to effectively do this you need to have that forensic analysis and I don’t mean the TILA Audit that is offered by so many companies using off the shelf software. You could probably buy the software yourself for less money than you pay those companies. I emphasize again that you need a FOUR WALL ANALYSIS.

Stage 3 Non-Judicial State, Notice of Sale received:

State statutes usually give you a tiny window of opportunity to contest the sale and the statute usually contains exact provisions on how you can do that or else your objection doesn’t count. At this point you need to secure the services of competent, knowledgeable, experienced legal counsel — professionals who have been fighting with these pretender lenders for a while. Anything less and you are likely to be sorely disappointed unless you landed, by luck of the draw, one of the increasing number of judges you are demonstrating their understanding and anger at this fraud.

Stage 4: Judicial State: Served with Process:

You must answer usually within 20 days. Failure to do so, along with your affirmative defenses and counterclaims, could result in a default followed by a default judgment followed by a Final Judgment of Foreclosure. See above steps.

Stage 5: Sale already occurred

You obviously need to reverse that situation. Usually the allegation is that the sale should be vacated because of fraud on the court (judicial) or fraudulent abuse of non-judicial process. This is a motion or Petitioner but it must be accompanied by a lawsuit, properly served and noticed to the other side. You probably need to name the purchaser at sale, and ask for a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) that stops them from moving the property or the money around any further until your questions are answered (see above). At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you need a good forensic analyst and a good lawyer.

Stage 6: Eviction (Unlawful Detainer Filed or Judgment entered:

Same as Stage 5.

The lawyer is not competend to testify

5 Oct

If the lawyer is not a competent witness with personal knowledge, then he should shut up and sit down.

So you sent a QWR and you know the loan is securitized. The orignating lender says talk to the servicer and the servicer declines to answer all the questions because they didn’t originate the loan. Or you are in court and the lawyer is trying to finesse his way past basic rules of evidence and due process by making representations to the Judge as an officer of the court.

He’s lying of course and if you let it go unchallenged, you will lose the case. Basically opposing counsel is saying “trust me Judge I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t so.” And your answer is that the lawyer is not a witness, that you don’t trust the lawyer or what he has to say, that if he is a witness he should be sworn in and subject to cross examaintion and if he is not a witness you are entitled to be confronted with a real witness with real testimony based upon real knowledge.

First Questions: When did you first learn of this case? What personal knowledge do you have concerning the payments received from the homeowner or third parties? What personal knowledge do you have as to who providing the actual cash from which the subject loan was funded?

Only when pressed relentlessly by the homeowner, the servicer comes up with a more and more restrictive answer as to what role they play. But they always start with don’t worry about a thing we control everything. Not true. Then later after you thought you worked out a modification they tell the deal is off because the investor declined. The investor is and always was the lender. That is the bottom line and any representation to the contrary is a lie and a fraud upon the court.

So whoever you sent the QWR to, always disclaims your right to ask, or tells you the name of the investor (i.e., your lender) is confidential, or that they have authority (but they won’t show it to you). That doesn’t seem to be a lender, does it? In fact they disclaim even knowing enough to answer your questions.

So AFTER THEY SERVE YOU with something file a motion to compel an immediate full answer to your QWR since under TILA service on the servicer is the same as service on the lender. You argue that everyone seems to be claiming rights to be paid under the original obligation, everyone seems to be claiming the right to enforce the note and mortgage, but nobody is willing to state unequivocally that they are the lender.

You are stuck in the position of being unable to seek modification under federal and State rules, unable to sell the property because you don’t know who can sign a satisfaction of mortgage or a release and reconveyance, unable to do a short-sale, and unable to refinance — all because they won’t give a simple answer to a simple question: who is the lender and what is the balance claimed by the real lender on the obligation? At this point you don’t even know that any of the real lenders wish to make a claim.

This is probably because they received TARP funds and insurance proceeds on defaults of pools that they had purchased multiple insurance policies (credit default swaps). But whether they are paid by someone who acquired rights of subrogation or they were not paid, you have a right to a FULL accounting and to know who they are and whether they received any third party money. If they were paid in part or otherwise sold their interest, then you have multiple additional unknown parties.

The reason is simple. They are not the lender and they know it. The lender is a group of investors who funded the transaction with Petitioner/Homeowner and others who purchased similar financial products from the same group of participants in the securitization chain relating to the subject loan.

The people currently in court do not include all the real parties in interest for you to make claims against the lender. Cite to the Massachusetts case where Wells Fargo and its lawyer were subject to an $850,000 sanction for misrepresenting its status to the court.

It is not enough for them to bluff their way by saying that they have already answered the interrogatories. When they lost and it came time to allocate damages and attorneys fees, Wells suddenly said they were NOT the lender, beneficiary or current holder and that therefore the damages and attorneys fees should be assessed against the real lender — who was not a party to the pending litigation and whom they refused to disclose along with their misrepresentation that they were the true lender.

It is not enough that the lawyer makes a representation to the court as an officer of the court. That is not how evidence works. If the lawyer wants to represent facts, then he/she should be sworn in and be subject to (1) voir dire to establish that he/she is opposing counsel that it came from some company.

The witness must be a competent witness who takes an oath, has personal knowledge regarding the content of the document, states that personal knowledge and whose testimony conforms to what is on the document.

There is no such thing as foundation without a witness. There is no such thing as foundation without a competent witness. So if the lawyer tries to finesse the subject by making blanket representations to the court(e.g. the property is “underwater” by $xxx,xxx and we need a lift of stay…yet, there is no certified appraisal entered into evidence with a certified appraiser that can be cross examined…just a statement from opposing counsel) point to Wells, or even point to other inconsistencies between what counsel has represented and what now appears to be the truth, and demand an evidentiary hearing. If the lawyer is not a competent witness with personal knowledge, then he should shut up and sit down.

File a motion to extend time to file adversary proceeding(in BK situation), answer, affirmative defenses and counterclaim UNTIL YOU GET A FULL AND COMPLETE ANSWER TO YOUR QWR so you can determine the real parties in interest and serve them with process. Otherwise, we will have a partial result wherein the real owner of the loan can and will claim damages and injunctive relief probably against all the current parties to this action including the Homeowner.

In short, the opposing counsel cannot just make statements of “fact” and have them accepted by the court as “fact” if they don’t pass the sniff test of real evidence corroborated by a competent witness. …and with every pleading ask for an evidentiary hearing and attorneys fees. Follow rule 11 procedure in Federal Court or the state law counterpart so you can get them later.

The case is lost when you stip to the commissioner

2 Oct

remember this if you forget everything else you don’t have to agree to take a commissioner in your eviction case he has thirty or so cases per day and therefore does not have time to listen to your defenses to the foreclosure or that the sale was not dully perfected . He will politely say I do not have  jurisdiction to hear these defenses. if they present the Trustees deed,

Trustees Fleming and Huff

Trustees Fleming and Huff (Photo credit: dave.cournoyer)

its over.
See Cal. Const. Article 6, §§21; 22
CCP § 259(e)

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