The citizens of the State of Florida– and Americans across this country– are sick and tired of watching the banks and institutions receive billions of dollars in aid and preferential treatments while they struggle to keep their jobs and try to save their homes.
Florida House Bill 1523, the absurdly titled Homeowner Relief & Housing Recovery Act is the latest example of the banks and institutions potentially receiving grossly unfair benefits while those who fund these benefits””your constituents and taxpayers, are victimized. This bill offers no relief for homeowners and it will not contribute to recovery of the housing market. Accordingly, I must respectfully suggest that any legislator considering this bill””and any other anti-consumer rights bill””vote against such harmful and improper legislation.
I am an attorney who has dedicated my practice to:
1) Helping homeowner’s save their homes;
2) Defend consumer’s fundamental rights;
3) Restoring the dignity and respect for judges, our courts and the rule of law; and
4) Opposing the gross abuses and systemic fraud being perpetrated on this country by unrestrained, unregulated and unaccountable lenders and the agents who perpetuate their fraud practices in courts””the foreclosure mills.
I currently represent hundreds of homeowners across the State of Florida who find themselves in foreclosure. I see first-hand, every single day the profound effects the foreclosure crisis is having on consumers, institutions and our communities.
While the lenders and foreclosure mills are correct that there is a major problem with foreclosures in this State and indeed the country, I urge the members considering any anti-consumer foreclosure legislation to remember that the problems faced by the lenders are problems they created. Furthermore, the problems related to foreclosure have only worsened because the players who created this crisis are engaging in improper practices in foreclosure courts and failing to implement pre-foreclosure diversion programs that could resolve many foreclosures before they are even filed.
I. The Banks And Foreclosure Mills Are Not Entitled to Any Legislative Relief Until They First Implement Programs And Procedures That Will More Effectively Address The Crisis Through Private Initiatives.
In comments published by the Florida Supreme Court’s Residential Foreclosure Task Force, the banks and lenders admitted that they have not organized the physical infrastructure or procedures to effectively communicate with property owners before or after they file for foreclose. As an attorney who meets with homeowners every day I can confirm that one of the biggest problems faced by homeowners is they simply cannot get their lender on the phone and if they do get them on the phone they cannot get them to confirm receipt of information they have received time and time again. Even after a foreclosure is filed, the lender’s own attorneys frequently have no better means to communicate with their own clients than faceless operators on phones in some foreign land. Until such time as the lenders devote sufficient resources to address the institutional and logistical problems they face, this legislature should not try to solve their problems for them.The Foreclosure Mills Could Process Their Foreclosures Much More Quickly if They Did Their Job Properly.
II. The Foreclosure Mills Could Process Their Foreclosures Much More Quickly if They Did Their Job Properly.
The lenders and their agents, the foreclosure mills, correctly assert that it takes many, many months to process a foreclosure case from start to finish. The truth about this issue is that if the foreclosure mills would get their information and documentation together correctly before they file, their cases would move much faster through the system. Instead, the lenders and their foreclosure mills fail to collect (or fail to fabricate before they file [see LPS allegations below]) the documents they need to support their alleged right to foreclose prior to filing the complaint. Post-filing they collect or fabricate the documents they need to support their alleged right to foreclose and send these documents, in a shotgun approach, to courts across the state. The piecemeal and inconsistent manner in which the lenders and their foreclosure mills””in addition to the questionable veracity of such evidence””is an important factor in their inability to proceed with cases in a more timely fashion. As will be discussed in detail below, one of the main reasons whey the lenders and their foreclosure mills cannot timely or ever produce such vital documentation is the simply do not possess the documents they need to proceed with their foreclosures and they may lack the legal capacity to proceed with them under any circumstances. If the lenders and their foreclosure mills had a more solid legal basis to support their actions–and the documentation to support these rights–their cases would move forward in a much more timely fashion. The fact that cases are not moving quickly is thus not necessarily an indication the system is broken, instead it is, in many cases, an indication that the cases themselves are flawed.
III. The Banks and Foreclosure Mills That Are Pushing For This Bill Are Engaging in Gross And Systemic Fraud In Courts Around The Country.
All members considering any anti-consumer foreclosure legislation should be aware of reports recently appearing in the Wall Street Journal which indicate that that Lender Processing Services (LPS), a major provider of services to the lending industry, is currently under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors. Circuit courts and increasingly bankruptcy courts are uncovering and collecting mountains of evidence that suggest the fraudulent and improper practices engaged in by LPS and others is widespread across the industry. LPS is just the first shoe to drop. In the months and years to come many more examples of such improper practices will be established through civil and criminal investigations. That being said, if the lenders and their attorney are so brazen that they are willing to engage in systematic fraud before judges in state and federal courts across the country, they certainly cannot be trusted to demonstrate integrity in a non-judicial forum. Accordingly any legislation that moves foreclosure away from judicial oversight should be rejected.
IV. The Banks and Institutions That Are Pushing For Anti-Consumer Foreclosure Legislation Are Engaging in Grossly Abusive Practices That Threaten Consumers’ Most Basic and Fundamental Rights.
Under the guise of ” property preservation” or ” winterization” agents acting on behalf of lenders are kicking down doors, changing locks, destroying property and terrorizing homeowners. I have several cases from across the state where lenders have in fact done each of the things I describe above. There are enough reports of these actions by other attorneys and consumer groups around the state to suggest this has become a pattern or practice routinely engaged in by lenders. If they are willing engage in such in cases where there is judicial involvement and supervision, they will be further emboldened to engage in such actions if any form of non-judicial foreclosure legislation is passed. For this reason, members should reject any anti-consumer foreclosure legislation.
V. The Banks and Institutions That Are Pushing for Anti-Consumer Foreclosure Legislation Are Failing To Work In Good Faith With Consumers To Resolve The Foreclosure Crisis.
The vast majority of my foreclosure cases would settle overnight if the lenders and their attorneys would engage in good faith, practical settlement negotiations. The vast majority of my clients are ready, willing and able to continue making mortgage payments immediately. They have worked diligently to come to settlement or modification terms that are very reasonable under the circumstances. Other consumers are judgment proof, they may have already left the property and simply want to negotiate a settlement that concludes the litigation. Some have worked hard to present entirely reasonable short sale offers to lenders that would result in a net recovery to lenders that is far greater than what they could ever hope to recover. Whatever the case, the lenders across the board are failing to enter into settlement talks that are objectively in their best interests. I can only assume based on my experience that their are larger and hidden perverse financial incentives at play that are preventing such responsible settlements from occurring. Until such time as we understand what these factors are that are preventing responsible settlement, members must reject any anti-consumer foreclosure legislation.
PLEASE WAIT TO CONSIDER ANY FAVORABLE VOTES ON ANTI-CONSUMER FORECLOSURE LITIGATION
Myself, along with other attorneys from around the state who have formed a coalition loosely called Lawyers Defending Homeowner’s Rights are coming to Tallahassee on Wednesday, April 21, 2010. I would respectfully request that you not vote this bill forward until you hear first hand from the attorneys who are working on the front lines of this crisis. I welcome the opportunity to come before you and present evidence of the issues I have presented in this correspondence. I challenge their well-funded and experienced lobbyists and supporters to an open debate on this legislation and the topics I have raised herein. If the members of this committee cannot wait until April 21, 2010, please advise of any date prior to that when a formal consideration and debate on the matter may be held. I frankly think members of the Florida Legislature owe it to yourselves and to your constituents to have a full, fair and open debate on these issues before you vote any anti-consumer foreclosure legislation through.
I will travel on a moment’s notice and appear whenever and wherever members request to provide evidence and answer any questions you have regarding the matters contained within this correspondence. Please contact me directly at email@example.com. Otherwise, I look forward to meeting with you on Wednesday, April, 21, 2010 along with other
Lawyers Defending Homeowner’s Rights!