A partner at our firm, Robbie L. Vaughn, is quoted in this article from The New York Law Journal:  Check it out below!  As always we are here to answer any questions concerning this new court ruling at (516) 858-2620!

New Court Rule Says Attorneys Must Verify Foreclosure Papers

Andrew Keshner

New York Law Journal

October 21, 2010

“We feel we have an obligation to make sure the attorneys do their due diligence and come to us with credible papers because the consequences [of wrongful foreclosures] are so great,” Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said in an interview, adding that the new filing requirement is the first in the nation.

See a sample of the affirmation attorneys will be required to provide.

Attorneys must now certify, “under the penalties of perjury,” that they have communicated with a representative of the plaintiff bank or lender and that they have personally reviewed all documents and records related to the case.

After making this review and “other diligent inquiry,” they must attest that “to the best of my knowledge information and belief, the Summons and Complaint and all other documents filed in support of this action for foreclosure are complete and accurate in all relevant respects.”

The court system’s affirmation form notes that foreclosure filings in various courts around the nation have been subject to a variety of defects, including the failure of counsel to review documents and establish standings, bogus notarized affidavits and the “robosignature” of piles of documents by parties and their counsel.

“The wrongful filing and prosecution of foreclosure proceedings which are discovered to suffer from these defects may be cause for disciplinary and other sanctions upon participating counsel,” the court system warns.

“I think this makes clear to everybody the court system’s absolute commitment that we are not going to allow anything to interfere with the integrity of the court process,” said Judge Lippman.

Attorneys general in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are jointly investigating whether mortgage companies have violated state laws. In Maryland, an emergency measure approved this week by the state’s highest court outlines how state judges can review foreclosures and stop them if documents are invalid.

In New York, attorneys already have an obligation to ensure that the documents they present to the court are valid. For example, Rule 3.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct states that lawyers should not knowingly “make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the lawyer.”

However, Judge Lippman told the Associated Press that forcing lawyers to sign something to certify that all papers have gotten a proper review will hold them accountable like never before.

“We want to make sure that everyone is focusing like a laser on these particular types of proceedings,” he said. “It puts them on notice. That’s what this is all about. We all have to make doubly sure that we are doing what we should be doing in the first place.”

Some New York judges have complained loudly about rampant errors of varying severity in legal filings by banks seeking to foreclose on record numbers of homeowners (NYLJ, Oct. 14).

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Arthur M. Schack, one of the judges who have pressed lenders to submit accurate paperwork, said the new Lippman rules are a “great idea,” which he hopes will allow defendants and judges to “get to the bottom of this mess.”

He said some lawyers appearing before him have admitted to signing documents at a rate of “hundreds a week and thousands a month, and the notary wasn’t even in the room.” The new rule may reduce inaccuracies, he said.

“I don’t know if it is unfair,” Justice Schack said. “You want to use the court system for relief, you have the burden of trying to have accurate paperwork and, based on your diligent inquiry, that it is true.”

Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau said she had judges with cases in which they refused to sign foreclosure orders without more documentation.

“There are particular issues in the foreclosure process that require us to be particularly diligent,” she said.

Judge Lippman said in a press release that “we cannot allow the courts in New York State to stand by idly and be party to what we now know is a deeply flawed process.”

The New York State Bar Association welcomed the new requirement. Its president, Stephen P. Younger, said in a statement that “the chief judge has taken swift steps to address a nationwide problem in foreclosure actions. The New York State Bar Association applauds any effort to preserve and maintain the integrity of the foreclosure process.”

Mr. Younger said the affirmation form would be printed on the state bar’s Web site at www.nysba.org/foreclosureaffirmation.

Robbie L. Vaughn of Vaughn & Weber in Mineola, who represents homeowners in foreclosure matters, said that “anything that would help the veracity of the paperwork would help. We find so many problems, it’s a shame.”

Gale D. Berg is a solo practitioner who is also the director of Pro Bono Attorney Activities for the Nassau County Bar Association, which runs a monthly foreclosure clinic. Speaking personally, she said the new requirement could prove difficult for some attorneys hired by the banks. Such counsel sometimes are hired on a per diem basis and first learn of the specific cases they are to handle only on the day they are to appear.

Anthony A. Capetola, a Williston Park-based attorney, has been court referee in Nassau and Suffolk County foreclosure matters for about 35 years. He noted that many homeowners facing foreclosure cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Without someone to advocate for the homeowner, the new requirement was the court’s effort to “try to put somebody’s neck on the line,” he said.

“The merits of this rule are going to be in the details,” said Joshua Stein, a Manhattan commercial real estate attorney who watches the residential market. Mr. Stein said it might make sense to ask a lawyer to make reasonable efforts to assess the facts, but attorneys could not be expected to become a “guarantor” of those facts.

“Is this imposing some higher standard and if it does, what will the unintended consequences be?” said Mr. Stein, who is the chair of the education committee for the state Mortgage Bankers Association but was speaking for himself. He added that slowing down the foreclosure process was not a good idea. “It’s a slow enough process already,” he said.

Michael P. Smith, the president of the state bankers’ group, said his members have long worked with court administrators to bring a “fair and timely resolution to foreclosure proceedings.”

“While we have not yet analyzed the new rules, we reaffirm our support for efforts to provide further clarity to a process which already is subject to stringent state laws,” Mr. Smith said in a statement.

New York is one of 23 states that requires judicial approval of foreclosures. JPMorgan Chase has estimated that its average foreclosure takes 792 days, one of the longest rates in the nation.

JPMorgan was one of a few major banks that froze all foreclosures nationwide while they reviewed their filings for problems. Two of the biggest, Bank of America and GMAC Mortgage, resumed proceedings this week.

The rule requiring a signed affirmation applies to both new cases and the 78,000 foreclosure actions already under way in New York courts. (See Foreclosure Figures for New York State: 2010 Year-to-Date Foreclosures Filed and Pending by County, 2009 Foreclosures Filed and Pending by County and Number of Filings by County 2005-2009.)

Lawyers handling pending foreclosure actions will probably need to go back to their clients and verify that all proper steps were followed, Judge Lippman said. The form created by the court requires the lawyers to give the name of the bank employee who affirmed that the records were accurate and the date the conversation took place.

Because the process is so lengthy and there are so many pending foreclosures, attorneys will be allowed to submit their affirmations at one of several points in the process.

For new cases, the affirmation would have to be included for the file to be complete. For pending cases—which can be at any point between the initial filing and the final ruling—the new affirmation is required before the judge’s final signature on the decision.

Once an order is signed, the affirmation would be required before an auction sale of the property is held.

@|Andrew Keshner can be contacted at akeshner@alm.com. The Associated Press and Law Journal reporter Joel Stashenko contributed to this report.

90 Day Pre-Foreclosure Notice

On June 25, 2010, in Foreclosure, by Robbie L. Vaughn, Esq.

90 Day Pre-Foreclosure Notice

I just received a 90 day pre-foreclosure notice; what does this mean?

NY foreclosure law now requires that a 90-day pre-foreclosure notice be sent to many homeowners facing foreclosure.  The 90-day notice requirement must be sent to homeowners, at risk of foreclosure, who own and occupy a 1-4 family dwelling as their principal residence.

The notice has to be in 14 point type and sent at least ninety (90) days before a lender, an assignee or a mortgage loan servicer commences legal action against the borrower. The 90 day foreclosure notice shall include the following:

“YOU COULD LOSE YOUR HOME. PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING
NOTICE CAREFULLY”
“As of ___, your home loan is ___ days in default. Under New York
State Law, we are required to send you this notice to inform you that
you are at risk of losing your home. You can cure this default by making
the payment of _____ dollars by ____.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty, you should know that
there are several options available to you that may help you keep your
home. Attached to this notice is a list of government approved housing
counseling agencies in your area which provide free or very low-cost
counseling. You should consider contacting one of these agencies
immediately. These agencies specialize in helping homeowners who are
facing financial difficulty. Housing counselors can help you assess your
financial condition and work with us to explore the possibility of
modifying your loan, establishing an easier payment plan for you, or
even working out a period of loan forbearance. If you wish, you may also
contact us directly at __________ and ask to discuss possible options.
While we cannot assure that a mutually agreeable resolution is
possible, we encourage you to take immediate steps to try to achieve a
resolution. The longer you wait, the fewer options you may have.
If this matter is not resolved within 90 days from the date this
notice was mailed, we may commence legal action against you (or sooner
if you cease to live in the dwelling as your primary residence.)
If you need further information, please call the New York State
Banking Department’s toll-free helpline at 1-877-BANK-NYS
(1-877-226-5697) or visit the Department’s website at
http://www.banking.state.ny.us”

Ideally, the 90 day pre -foreclosure notice is sent prior to the start of the foreclosure action and allows a homeowner to work with their lender to prevent the foreclosure of their home.   If you have received a 90 day foreclosure notice, you should consider calling a foreclosure defense attorney to discuss your options.

Long Island Foreclosure Attorneys

As always, the  Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC is here to assist you.  We are conveniently located in the heart of Nassau County, Long Island, NYContact us at (516) 858-2620 to arrange a consultation with a foreclosure defense attorney.

Please visit our Foreclosure category to learn more about foreclosure issues.

Facing Foreclosure

On April 17, 2010, in Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, by Robbie L. Vaughn, Esq.

Facing Foreclosure

I’m facing foreclosure, What can I do?

Some of your options:

1. Do something:

-Call your  lender and try to arrange a Loan Modification, Refinance, short sale, or Deed-in-Lieu of foreclosure.

-Loan Modification- A Loan Modification is a permanent/temporary change in one or more of the terms of your mortgage loan. Ideally, this will result in a payment you can afford. (You might able to do this yourself).
-See http://makinghomeaffordable.gov/eligibility.html

-Short Sale- A sale of a house for less money than is owed to the lender. Ideally, the lender agrees to accept the proceeds of a short sale and forgives the rest of what is owed. Some lenders are offering a cash incentive to homeowners if they are willing to short sale their home. You will likely need the help of a R.E. Broker & a Real Estate Attorney.

-Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure- (May only be available after a failed Short Sale attempt). Ideally, the lender accepts ownership of the property in place of the money owed on the mortgage. You will likely need the help of a Real Estate Attorney.

-Consult with an attorney regarding:

-Foreclosure Defenses- Such as a Lack of standing, TILA violations, RESPA violations etc.

-Bankruptcy- Such as Chapter 13- which is a type of “reorganization” used by individuals to pay all or a portion of their debts over a period of years using their current income. The most important thing about a chapter 13 case is that it may allow you to keep your home if you can make the payments which the bankruptcy law requires to be made to your creditors.

-Deficiency Judgments- Generally, a judgment for the amount a homeowner owes the lender after a house is foreclosed upon and sold by the creditor for less than the actual amount still owed.

-Watch this New York State Bar Association video: http://204.8.127.102/peopleslaw/SaveYourHome.htm

2. Do nothing:

-Walk away (OR)

-Stay in your home until you get evicted.

-Pay or go calculator: http://www.payorgo.com/

We believe most people should consider contesting the foreclosure of their home.  We were recently successful in getting a foreclosure action stayed.  We hope to get it dismissed, or force the lender to do a loan modification.

Mineola Foreclosure Attorneys

Call The Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC, at 516-858-2620 to speak with a foreclosure defense attorney and/or a bankruptcy lawyer.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. This website is Attorney Advertising. It does not form an attorney-client relationship. We are a debt relief agency and a law firm that helps people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code – Title 11. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Proudly assisting residents of Long Island, Nassau county, Suffolk county, New York City, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Manhattan