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Editor’s Analysis: If you are thinking that with all the publicity surrounding the obvious fatal defects in the millions of foreclosures already completed, quiet title should be unnecessary, you are probably right. The fact is that the real world is more complicated and as Elizabeth Warren and several dozen bloggers and journalists have pointed out the average of $300 per homeowner being paid to settle the matter is not just inadequate it is stupid. No amount of money will actually cure the current title corruption on record in all 50 states due to practice of allowing complete strangers to the transaction to self-anoint themselves as creditors, foreclose on property and submit a credit bid at auction when they were not owed any money and there was no credit relationship between the homeowner and the bidder.
Quiet Title is an effective tool but it is not a silver bullet. It is about what is contained in the county records. If someone accidentally (or on purpose) records a lien against your property and they refuse to retract it, then you are forced to file an action with the Court that says I own the property and my title is clouded by documents that were recorded as liens against my title.
Those liens are not lawful, and they should be declared null and void or at a minimum the court should issue a declaratory statement based upon facts of the case that sets forth the stakeholders in the property and the nature of their claim.
In order to claim the latter, you would need to state that while the lien is unlawful, the party named on the lien, or the party claiming to hold the right to the lien, refuses to cooperate with clearing title or to explain the nature of their claim. Thus the homeowner is left with a lien which is unlawful and a claimant who insists that it is lawful. The homeowner is in doubt as to his rights and therefore asks the Court to quiet title or declare the rights of the parties.
In filing quiet title claims the mistake most often made is that it is being used defensively instead of offensively. The complaint that fails merely attacks the right of some pretender lender to foreclose. That is not a quiet title action. That is a denial of the debt, note, mortgage, default, notice etc.
And the Courts regularly and correctly dismiss such claims as quiet title claims. You can’t quiet tile because someone does not have a right to foreclose. You can only quiet title if you can assert and prove to the Court that the items on record do not apply to you or your property and therefore should be removed.
AND you can’t get through a motion to dismiss a declaratory action if you don’t state that you are in doubt and give cogent reasons why you are in doubt. If you state that the other side has no right to do anything and end it there, you are using quiet title defensively rather than offensively in a declaratory action.
Stating that the pretender lender has no right to foreclose is not grounds for a declaratory action either. If you make a short plain statement of FACTS (not conclusions of law) upon which the relief sought could be granted you survive a motion to dismiss. If you only state the conclusions of law, you lose the motion to dismiss.
In such a declaratory action you must state that you have doubts because the pretender lender has taken the position and issued statements, letters or demands indicating they are the owner of the lien but you have evidence from expert analyses from title and securitization experts that they are not the owner of the line and they never were.
Remember in securitized transactions you would need to name the original named payee on the note and the secured party(ies) and state that they never should have recorded the lien because they did not perform as required by the agreement (i.e., they didn’t loan you money) and/or because they received loss mitigation payments in excess of the amount due. If you want to get more elaborate, you can say that they now claim to have nothing to do with the loan and refuse to apply loss mitigation payments to the loan even though they were received.
The problem in Florida is that such claims may be interpreted by the Clerk as claims relating to land and title which requires the ungodly amount of $1900 in filing fees alone, which I personally think is an unconscionable and unconstitutional denial of access to the court to all except people with a lot of money.
So you might want to go with slander of title seeking money damages or failure to refund over-payments received from sale or mitigation payments relating to your loan. That COULD be the basis of a claim in which the property is already sold at auction, short-sale, or resale. If the pretender lender received the payoff or the property illegally and then fraudulently executed a satisfaction of mortgage even though they were never the lender nor the purchaser of the loan, then you, as the owner of the property are probably entitled to that money plus interest and probably attorney fees.
PRACTICE NOTE: Strategically it seems like it is tough going if you attack the title under correct but unpalatable causes of action (i.e. actions that the judicial system already has decided they don’t like the outcome — a free house to the homeowner). So the other way of skinning the cat is to file actions for damages and that I think is the future of mortgage litigation. The basic action is simple breach of contract (the agreement to enter into the loan transaction and/or the note).
Filing suit for damages AFTER the sale gives you playing field without moving goal posts and allows fairly simple straightforward causes of action which many attorneys will soon realize they can take strictly on contingency or mostly on contingency. The net result may well be either the tender of money and/or the tender of the property back to the homeowner or former homeowner in lieu of payment for damages.It also opens the door to the possibility of punitive, treble, or exemplary damages or some combination of those.
At my firm we are looking hard at closings where the pretender lender took the money and ran on a short-sale or resale. It is clear-cut. They either had a right to the money or they didn’t. IF they didn’t have the right to execute the satisfaction of mortgage or if they fraudulently diverted the money to their own benefit in lieu of the creditor from whom they did receive authority, then you still have a right to refund of the money that unjustly enriched the pretender lender. The money goes to the former owner/seller and to nobody else. If there is a claimant that wishes to step forward to attack the award, then we will deal with it, but based upon my information such claims will not be made.
Error Claims Cast Doubt on Bank of America Foreclosures in Bay Area
Number of homes entering foreclosure plunges in California
Politics: While Wronged Homeowners Got $300 Apiece in Foreclosure Settlement, Consultants Who Helped Protect Banks Got $2 Billion
Minnesota Supreme Court Affirms That Foreclosing Parties Must Record Mortgage Assignments Prior To Initiating Foreclosure By Advertisement
Presenting: The Housing Bubble 2.0
Filed under: bubble, CDO, CORRUPTION, foreclosure, GARFIELD GWALTNEY KELLEY AND WHITE, GTC | Honor, Mortgage, securities fraud | Tagged: breach of contract, DECLARATORY RELIEF, defensive strategies, Elizabeth Warren, money damages, MOTION TO DISMISS, offensive strategies, Practice note, quiet title, slander of title, Title Corruption, title record, UNJUST ENRICHMENT | 80 Comments »