Category: Litigation & Enforcement Actions

1
Tenants’ Rights under the Global Foreclosure Settlement Agreement
2
National Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement Tackles “Dual Tracking” of Foreclosure and Loan Modification
3
Protecting the Protectors – the Global Settlement Agreements’ SCRA Provisions
4
Global Servicing Settlement Requires Single Points of Contact (“SPOCs”)
5
How the Global Foreclosure Settlement Agreement Impacts Servicing Fees
6
Freeman v. Quicken Loans to Decide Whether Undivided Unearned Fees Violate RESPA
7
MERS and Foreclosure Law in Massachusetts: Culhane v. Aurora Loan Services
8
Marketing Financial Services through Social Media: Twitter Case May Impact Social Media Platforms
9
RESPA Investigations Initiated at HUD May Have Been Reassigned to the CFPB
10
When Trying Title Becomes Trying: The Impact of Bevilacqua v. Rodriguez on Massachusetts Foreclosure Law

Tenants’ Rights under the Global Foreclosure Settlement Agreement

By: Nanci L. Weissgold, Morey E. Barnes Yost

Buried deep in the 40-plus pages of “Servicing Standards” that are part of the recently announced global foreclosure settlement agreement (the “Agreement”) are two bullets on a topic that could impact thousands: tenants’ rights.

Specifically, the Agreement requires subject servicers to: (1) comply with all applicable state and federal laws governing the rights of tenants living in foreclosed residential properties; and (2) develop and implement written policies and procedures to ensure compliance with such laws. Read More

National Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement Tackles “Dual Tracking” of Foreclosure and Loan Modification

By: Stephanie C. Robinson,  Kerri M. Smith

At what point is it appropriate after a borrower defaults to initiate foreclosure proceedings? As soon as the borrower defaults? Few, if any, servicers follow this rule. During a review of loss mitigation options? During a trial modification? Servicers long have felt that the extraordinary delays in completing foreclosures based on some state laws weigh in favor of starting the foreclosure process as soon as possible. Of course, the servicer always can call off the foreclosure if the loss mitigation option succeeds, but a decision to delay the initiation of foreclosures can result in investor claims. On the other hand, borrowers who think they are in the running for a loan modification often are angry and dismayed when the foreclosure notice arrives. The national foreclosure settlement between the country’s five largest residential mortgage loan servicers and the federal government and 49 state attorneys general places a number of restrictions on the controversial but common practice of “dual tracking” foreclosures and loan modifications. Read More

Protecting the Protectors – the Global Settlement Agreements’ SCRA Provisions

By: Jonathan D. Jaffe

Given the reported violations of the provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (“SCRA”) by some servicers, and the attendant enforcement and civil actions against those servicers, state and federal regulators clearly felt compelled to impose significant SCRA-related requirements on the nation’s five largest residential mortgage loan servicers (the “Servicers”) in the recent global settlement agreements (the “Agreements”) entered into between those regulators and Servicers, described here. Read More

Global Servicing Settlement Requires Single Points of Contact (“SPOCs”)

By: Kristie D. Kully

The servicing standards imposed on the five largest mortgage loan servicers by the recent global settlement agreement with state and federal regulators, described here, continue to pile on the “SPOC” requirements. “SPOC” stands for a single point of contact – a knowledgeable and accessible person a troubled borrower may contact to receive information and assistance in the loss mitigation, loan modification, and foreclosure process. SPOCs may do little to resolve the foreclosure documentation irregularities that sparked state and federal regulators to initiate their investigation. However, they have been touted as key to the efforts for national servicing standards, and are an inevitable adjunct to the global settlement agreement.

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How the Global Foreclosure Settlement Agreement Impacts Servicing Fees

By: Nanci L. Weissgold, Morey E. Barnes Yost

As scrutiny of default servicing practices provided significant impetus for the recently announced global foreclosure settlement agreement (the “Agreement”), it is no surprise that the Agreement prescribes extensive standards to resolve issues with these practices. Based upon the Servicing Standards announced as part of the Agreement, one major area of focus will be the fees that mortgage loan servicers charge in connection with servicing loans. Read More

Freeman v. Quicken Loans to Decide Whether Undivided Unearned Fees Violate RESPA

By: Phillip L. Schulman

To split an unearned fee or not to split an unearned fee in order to violate the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) – that is the question. Rather, that was the question on February 21, 2012 when the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Freeman v. Quicken Loans, Inc. The case is intended to settle a dispute among the federal circuit courts regarding the statutory interpretation of Section 8(b) of RESPA which prohibits giving or accepting “any portion, split, or percentage” of any charge for settlement services “other than for services actually performed.” Read More

MERS and Foreclosure Law in Massachusetts: Culhane v. Aurora Loan Services

By: Andrew C. Glass, Gregory N. Blase, Roger L. Smerage

A Massachusetts federal court recently confirmed MERS’s ability to assign mortgages under Massachusetts law and approved MERS’s practices in doing so.

In Culhane v. Aurora Loan Services, — F. Supp. 2d —-, 2011 WL 5925525 (D. Mass. Nov. 28, 2011), a borrower sued her loan servicer to prevent foreclosure. The court granted summary judgment for the servicer, addressing two principal issues. First, the court examined whether Massachusetts law requires that the same entity hold both the note and mortgage before initiating the foreclosure process. Predicting how the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court may rule in a pending appeal, Eaton v. Federal National Mortgage Association, SJC-11041 (argued Oct. 3, 2011), the federal court concluded that under Massachusetts law, the mortgagee must either be the noteholder, or the servicer of the noteholder acting pursuant to authority from the noteholder, to foreclose on property pursuant to the power of sale. Read More

Marketing Financial Services through Social Media: Twitter Case May Impact Social Media Platforms

By: Andrew L. Caplan* and David A. Tallman
*Mr. Caplan is not yet admitted to practice; admission to the NY Bar pending.

Litigation making its way through the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California could have broad implications for the use of social media websites for marketing purposes. The central issue in PhoneDog, LLC v. Kravitz is the extent to which a company can control or limit the use of a social media account created for the company’s benefit but used by an individual employee in that employee’s name. The case illustrates the competing concerns that companies face with respect to social media marketing. Some companies may prefer to allow employees to engage with social media relatively independently in order to mitigate the risk that courts or regulatory authorities will impute employee-generated content to the company or subject the content to substantive regulation. But by doing so, companies may lose the ability to manage key social media relationships. Read More

RESPA Investigations Initiated at HUD May Have Been Reassigned to the CFPB

By: Phillip L. Schulman

When HUD transferred RESPA enforcement authority to the CFPB, some RESPA investigations that had been initiated at HUD may have been assigned to the new agency. As a result, some companies may not be out of the woods just yet.

Approximately 10 former HUD RESPA Enforcement Division staffers and counsel transferred to the new CFPB on July 21st, including RESPA Enforcement Division Director Bart Shapiro. About five of those employees ended up being reassigned to the CFPB’s Enforcement Division. Last spring the HUD Unit was busy trying to resolve dozens of RESPA investigations before they turned out the RESPA enforcement lights at HUD. Read More

When Trying Title Becomes Trying: The Impact of Bevilacqua v. Rodriguez on Massachusetts Foreclosure Law

By: R. Bruce Allensworth, Andrew C. Glass, Roger L. Smerage

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) has ruled that Massachusetts property owners may lack standing to establish title to their property where there is a void foreclosure sale in the chain of title. The Massachusetts “try title” statute permits a holder of “record title” in possession of property to file a petition to force adverse claimants to defend their purported interest in the property. In Bevilacqua v. Rodriguez, the SJC held that a third-party purchaser of foreclosed property did not hold record title where no assignment of mortgage to the foreclosing entity had occurred at the time of foreclosure. Absent such an assignment, the foreclosure sale was invalid, and the foreclosing entity had nothing to convey to the third-party purchaser. Taking nothing from the foreclosing entity, the third-party purchaser lacked standing to maintain a try title action against the original mortgagor. Nonetheless, the scope of the ruling is likely limited to Massachusetts and jurisdictions where a mortgagee or its assigns must initiate foreclosure and where the party bringing the foreclosure action did not obtain an assignment of the mortgage until after the commencement of the foreclosure process. Moreover, because the Bevilacqua decision simply applies the law as already articulated by the SJC in its January 2011 U.S. Bank, N.A. v. Ibanez  opinion, its impact on current and ongoing foreclosure practices appears limited. Massachusetts foreclosure attorneys are likely to have already altered their assignment practices in light of Ibanez.

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