9th Circuit: Assignment in Breach of PSA is Voidable not Void. Here is why they are wrong

The thousands of trial court and appellate decisions that have hung their hat on illegal assignments being “voidable” demonstrates either a lack of understanding of common law business trusts or an adherence to a faulty doctrine in which homeowners pay the price for fraudulent bank activities.

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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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see Turner v Wells Fargo

Some of the problems might be in the presentation of evidence, failures to object and failure to move to strike evidence or testimony. But most of it deals with the inability of lawyers and the Courts to pierce the veil of uncertainty and complexity with which the banks have covered their fraudulent tracks.

Here are the reasons the assignment might be void. No self-serving newly invented doctrine can overcome the failure of an illegal assignment.

  1. Common Law Trusts are almost always formed under New York State law that allows unregistered trusts to be created for business purposes. Any act in contravention of the express provisions of the trust instrument (usually the Pooling and Servicing Agreement) is void, not voidable. It cannot be revived through ratification — especially when there is nobody around to change the trust instrument, thus ratifying the void act.
  2. Many if not most assignments are fabricated for foreclosure and either nonexistent or backdated to avoid the fact that the assignment is void when it is fabricated — years after the so-called trust was described in a trust instrument that is rarely complete because no mortgage loan schedule at the time of the drafting of what is in most cases an incomplete trust instrument.
  3. Assignments are clearly void and not entitled to any presumptions under the UCC if they are dated after the loan was declared in default (albeit by a party who had no right to declare a default much less enforce the debt or obtain a forced sale of homestead and other residential properties) schedule existed at the time of the drafting of the trust instrument. The application of UCC presumptions after the alleged date of default is simply wrong.
  4. The fact that an instrument COULD be ratified does not mean that it WAS ratified. What is before the court is an illegal act that has not been ratified. The possibility that the parties to the trust instrument (trustor, trustee, beneficiaries) could change the instrument to allow the illegal act AND apply it retroactively is merely speculative — and against all legal doctrine and common sense. These courts are ruling on the possibility of a nonexistent act that without analysis of the trust instrument, is declared to be possibly subject to “ratification.”
  5. Assuming the trust even exists on paper does not mean that it ever entered into an actual transaction in which it acquired the “loan” which means the debt, note and mortgage.
  6. Any “waiver” or “ratification” would result in the loss of REMIC status under the terms of the Internal Revenue Code. No rational beneficiary would ratify the act of accepting even a performing loan after the cutoff period. To do so would change the nature of the trust from a REMIC vehicle entitled to pass through tax treatment. Hence even if the beneficiaries were entitled to change, alter, amend or modify the trust instrument they would be firing a tax bullet into their own heads.  Every penny received by a beneficiary would be then be taxed as ordinary income including return of principal.
  7. No rational beneficiary would be willing to change the trust instrument from accepting only properly underwritten performing loans to loans already declared in default.
  8. No Trustee, or beneficiary has the power to change the terms of the trust or to ratify an illegal act.
  9. In fact the trust instrument specifically prohibits the trustee and beneficiaries from knowing or even asking about the status of loans in the trust. Under what reasonable scenario could anyone even know that they were getting a non-performing loan outside the 90 day cutoff period.
  10. The very act of introducing the possibility of ratification where none exists under the trust instrument is the adjudication of rights of senior investors who are not present in court nor given notice of its proceeding. Such decisions are precedent for other defenses and claims in which the trust instrument could be changed to the detriment of the beneficiaries.

Quiet Title Revisited: Not Quite a Dead End

Void means that the instrument meant nothing when it was filed, not that it is unenforceable now.

 

I know how hard it is to let go of something that you really want to believe in. But for practical reasons I consider it unwise to continue on the QT path until we can find a way to get rid of the void assignment. That unto itself might a form of quiet title action and it is far easier to do. The allegation need only be that neither the assignor nor the assignee (a) had any right, justification or excuse to claim an interest in the recorded mortgage and (b) neither one was ever party to a completed transaction in which either of them had paid value for any interest in the recorded mortgage. Hence the assignment is void and should be removed from the chain of title reflected in the county records. So that takes care of one of several problems and the attack does not seek to remove the mortgage — yet.

 

Quiet title is a very limited remedy. In nearly all cases if the facts are contested it almost automatically means that there is no quiet tile relief available. It is meant to remove wild deeds or any other void (not voidable) instrument. Void means that the instrument meant nothing when it was filed, not that it is unenforceable now.

I contributed to the mystery of quiet title because it was apparent that the mortgage was void because it never named the true lender. In fact the existence and identity of the true source of funds for the transaction was intentionally withheld from the borrower leaving the mortgage with only one party instead of two.

 

The problem many courts are having with this is that the mortgage might still be subject to reformation that would insert the correct name of the actual lender (theoretically, potentially reformation). The fact that there is no such creditor whose name can be inserted does not make the mortgage void. It makes it voidable. Actually proving that there is no such creditor won’t be easy since only the banks have the information that shows that.

 

If there are any future events that could revive the mortgage deed, then quiet title can’t work. Add to that the fact that judges are not treating these attacks seriously and routinely ruling for the banks and you have a what appears to be a dead end.

 

All that said, there ARE causes of action that could attack the void assignment and the voidable mortgage in which the court could theoretically declare that in the absence of information sought from the defendants, who appear to be the only potential claimants, the mortgage is THEN declared void by court order, THEN a second count in quiet title would be in order. I cannot emphasize enough the fact that Judges are going to be very resistant to this but I think that appellate courts are starting to understand what happened with false claims of securitization.

 

Essentially, the Court must state that:

  1. The mortgage failed to name the correct party as lender.
  2. That failure makes the mortgage voidable.
  3. Despite publication and notice, there are no parties who could answer to the description of the creditor whose name should have been on the mortgage.
  4. The mortgage is therefore void
  5. Court declares title to be vested in the name of Smith and Jones without any encumbrance arising out of the mortgage recorded at Page 123 Book 456 of the public records of XXXX County, Florida.
 This of course directly challenges the judicial notion that once the homeowner receives money, it is a loan, it is enforceable and it doesn’t matter who comes into court to enforce it. To say that this judicial “law” opened the door to mayhem and moral hazard would be an understatement. Using the opinions written by trial judges, appellate judges and even Supreme Court justices, people who like to “leverage the system” have seized on this obvious opening to steal receivables from the rightful recipient — with no negative consequences. They write a letter that appears on its face to be correct and valid. According to current practices this raises the presumption that the contents of the letter are true.
 Hence the self-serving letter creates the legal presumption that the writer is authorized to tell the debtor that the writer is now the owner of the debt and to direct payments to the “new owner.” This isn’t speculation. Starting in California this business plan is spreading across the country. By the time the rightful owner of the debt wakes up the Newco Debt Servicing company has collected or settled the account.
Since the presumption is raised that the thief writing the letter is authorized, the real party in interest cannot beat the defense of payment by a debtor who thought they were doing the right thing. Reasonable reliance by the borrower is presumed since the authority and the validity of the letter was presumed. And that is not just a description of some dirty rag tag gangsters; it is a verifiable description of what the banks have been doing for years with mortgage debt, credit card debt, student loan debt and every other kind of debt imaginable.
By the time the investors wake up and find out their money was not used to fund a trust or real business entity, their money is gone and they are at the mercy of the big time banks who will offer settlements of claims that should have resulted in jail time for the bankers. Instead we have literally authorized small time crooks to emulate the behavior of the banks thus throwing the marketplace into further chaos.
So if you start off knowing that the banks can never come up with the name and contact information of a creditor, then you begin to see how there are some attacks on the position of banks that could have enormous traction even though on their face those strategies look like losers.

Does Yvanova Provide a Back Door to Closed Cases?

That is the question I am hearing from multiple people. My provisional answer is that in my opinion there is a strong argument for using it if the property has not been liquidated after the foreclosure auction. There might be a grey area while the property is REO and there might be a grey area where the property has been sold but the issue of a void assignment is raised in an eviction procedure. It will strain the minds of judges even more, but these issues are certain to come up. As things continue to progress Judges will shift from looking askance at borrowers and thinking their defenses are all hairsplitting ways to get out of a debt and get a free house. Upon reflection, over the next couple of years, you will see an increasing number of judges taking the same cynical view and turning it toward the banks and servicers who in most cases function neither as banks or servicers.

The Yvanova court took great pains to say that this was a very narrow ruling. Starting with that one might argue it only applied to that specific case. But they went further than that and we all know it. SO it stands for the proposition that a void assignment can be the basis of a wrongful foreclosure. AND most BANK LAWYERS agree that is a huge problem for them, at least in California but they think it will adopted across the country and I agree with the Bank lawyers on that assessment.

The reason is simple logic. If the foreclosure is wrongful then it seems stupidly simple to say that it was wrong in the first place. If it was “wrong” the questions that emerge in legal scholarship arise from two main paths.

What does “wrong” mean. Or to put it in Yvanova language is wrong the same as void or is it voidable. This would have a huge impact on issues of jurisdiction, res judicata, collateral estoppel etc. Does it mean that it was wrong and you can get damages or does it mean that it was wrong and therefore the homeowner still owns the house. I lean towards the former not by preference but by what I think the court was saying between the lines. The whole point of nonjudicial foreclosure (amongst two other points that are obvious) is to provide stability and confidence in the title system. So if a wrong foreclosure occurs the title would most likely remain in whoever bought it at auction — although the purgatory in which many properties remain (REO) might create a grey area in which there is no prejudice in vacating the sale. Indeed if the party holding the “FINAL” title did so by fraud (using a void assignment) then equity would seem to demand return of title to the homeowner. AND THEN you still have the problem of evictions or writs of possession or whatever they are called in your state. Title is one thing but possession is another. If you raise the void assignment can you defeat possession even if you can’t defeat the title transfer? It would SEEM not but equity would demand that a thief not further the rewards of his ill-gotten gains.

Next path. Procedure, evidence and objections. Going back in time the homeowner might have objected or even alleged things that the Yvanova court now finds to have merit. So a lay person might think that is all they need is to show the void assignment and presto they have title or money or both in their hands. Not so fast. Due process is intended to allow a person to be heard and the justice system is designed and created to FINALIZE disputes, whether the decision is right or wrong. SO questions abound about what happened at the trial court level. But there was a remedy for that. It is called an appeal. And there are choices to even go to Federal Court if the state court is rubber stamping void instruments. But the time for doing that has expired on all but a few cases and the judicial doctrine of finality is the most difficult to overcome. Even a condemned man usually will be put to death even if there is actual evidence of innocence after a period of time has expired and a number of appeals have been exhausted.

SO that is my long winded way of saying I don’t know. If Yvanova opens the door to many new openings of closed cases, it certainly doesn’t say so. But a defense of a current case — even one amended to cite Yvanova, might fare much better.

The real answer: pick a path and try it.

AZ STATUTE DEFINES BENEFICIARY and CREDIT BID: NOT “NOMINEE”

33-801. Definitions

In this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

1. “Beneficiary” means the person named or otherwise designated in a trust deed as the person for whose benefit a trust deed is given, or the person’s successor in interest. [Note that this does not include a nominee like MERS. There is a reason for that. The legislature intended to create certainty in contracts and actions on contracts. Using a nominee immediately creates the question of agency. The question of agency immediately raises the question of “who is the principal?” As long as that question exists, this statute is violated. If this statue is violated the deed of trust is void.]

2. “Business day” means any day other than a saturday or a legal holiday.

3. “Cash” means United States currency.

4. “Contract” means a promise or a set of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as a duty, including but not limited to a note, A promissory note or provisions of any trust deed.

5. “Credit bid” means a bid made by the beneficiary in full or partial satisfaction of the contract or contracts which are secured by the trust deed. [Note that such credit bids are the rule rather than the exception and that the person making the credit bid is almost never the named the beneficiary. hence the sale is void]. [Note also that without an accounting for third party payments to the creditor in the securitization chain who has succeeded to the position of beneficiary BECAUSE THE SUCCESSION IS SHOWN IN THE COUNTY RECORDS, is voidable because the amount is incorrect, which is a question of fact that must be judicially resolved, which is why NO NON-JUDICIAL sale of securitized property is appropriate.] Such credit bid may only include an amount up to the full amount of the contract or contracts secured by the trust deed, less any amount owing on liens or encumbrances with interest which are superior in priority to the trust deed and which the beneficiary is obligated to pay under the contract or contracts or under the trust deed, together with the amount of other obligations provided in or secured by the trust deed and the costs and expenses of exercising the power of sale and the sale, including the trustee’s fees and reasonable attorney fees actually incurred. (e.s.)

6. “Force majeure” means an act of God or of nature, a superior or overpowering force or an event or effect that cannot reasonably be anticipated or controlled and that prevents access to the sale location for conduct of a sale.

7. “Parent corporation” means a corporation which owns eighty per cent or more of every class of the issued and outstanding stock of another corporation or, in the case of a savings and loan association, eighty per cent or more of its issued and outstanding guaranty capital.

8. “Trust deed” or “deed of trust” means a deed executed in conformity with this chapter and conveying trust property to a trustee or trustees qualified under section 33-803 to secure the performance of a contract or contracts, other than a trust deed which encumbers in whole or in part trust property located in Arizona and in one or more other states.

9. “Trust property” means any legal, equitable, leasehold or other interest in real property which is capable of being transferred, whether or not it is subject to any prior mortgages, trust deeds, contracts for conveyance of real property or other liens or encumbrances.

10. “Trustee” means an individual, association or corporation qualified pursuant to section 33-803, or the successor in interest thereto, to whom trust property is conveyed by trust deed. The trustee’s obligations to the trustor, beneficiary and other persons are as specified in this chapter, together with any other obligations specified in the trust deed.

11. “Trustor” means the person conveying trust property by a trust deed as security for the performance of a contract or contracts, or the successor in interest of such person.

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