Can a Trial Loan Modification be Litigated? New Question?


This question has arisen many times lately, and still we do not have a confirmed answer. But nonetheless it can be litigated because the trial loan modification is afterall a contract, and every contract can be enforced. This goes back to the first year law school class of contract. It means offer, acceptance, consideration and execution. Here, it has all the elements of contract formation. All the judicial remedies of a contract are available in this litigation also. Why not? A lender cannot be compelled to modify a contract unless they had taken governmental bailout money and there are federal guidelines about foreclosure and the requirements one has to meet. We are talking about folks who had gotten trial loan modification and the banks is reneging on it. Here, someone signed, accepted the trial loan modification and sent quite few payments in executing the offer, and did their part of the bargain.

NCLS has brought four class action suits on behalf of Massachusetts residents to challenge the failure of Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America , J.P. Morgan Chase Bank and IndyMac Mortgage Servicers/OneWest Bank to honor their agreements with borrowers to modify mortgages and prevent foreclosures under the United States Treasury’s Home Affordable Modification Program (”HAMP”). The complaints are filed with the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and assert claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and promissory estoppel under Massachusetts common law arising from the financial institution’s alleged failure to keep its promises to modify eligible loans to prevent foreclosures against homeowners who have lived up to their end of the bargain as required by HAMP.

Here are some of the complaints filed lately for such litigation.
Complaint No. 1
http://www.nclc.org/issues/cocounseling/content/hamp-BosqueWFComplaint.pdf

Complaint No. 2
http://www.nclc.org/issues/cocounseling/content/hamp-Johnson-BOA-Complaint.pdf

Complaint No. 3
http://www.nclc.org/issues/cocounseling/content/hamp-DurmicJPMorganChase-Complaint.pdf

Complaint No. 4
http://www.nclc.org/issues/cocounseling/content/hamp-Reyes-OneWest-Complaint.pdf

2 Comments

  1. I just sent this letter to a dozen regulatory agencies…

    I am writing to you as a homeowner in foreclosure and wish to draw your attention to issues regarding mortgage loan modification, including the Making Homes Affordable program. The prevailing loan modification policies imposed by government entities and loan servicers expose homeowners to substantial risks in a system designed to generate additional profits to loan servicers and others who reap financial rewards in the foreclosure process, at the expense of consumers.

    1. The prohibition against partial payments imposed by many loan servicers quickly forces many homeowners into expensive and unnecessary foreclosure proceedings. A loan servicer may decline a mortgage payment check that is $20 less than the full amount due, with full knowledge – and presumably hope – that it may soon result in thousands of extra dollars in profit should the homeowner later be forced into foreclosure. Such policies are calculated to increase profits to loan servicers, their attorneys and other entities that benefit in the foreclosure process.
    2. The notorious “Three Month Trial Period” offered by many loan servicers is fraught with many jeopardies to homeowners who accept such offers.
    a. As loan servicers repeatedly extend the trial period, three months may become a year or two.
    b. More than half of all trial periods are cancelled by the loan servicer, most of the time despite the fact the homeowner made timely payments.
    c. During this period, foreclosure proceedings remain pending, which permits loan servicers to demand an auction date for the sale of the house, even in cases where the homeowner has fully complied with the Trial Period.
    d. No warranty, pledge or agreement is made by the loan servicer upon initiation of the trial period. Servicers are under no obligation to do anything other than re-review the loan modification application. This provides ample incentive to loan servicers to prolong the trial period and revive foreclosure proceedings, after gaining many thousands more dollars from hapless homeowners who were led to believe the trial period would end in a timely manner, including an approval of their loan modification.
    e. No details are revealed in advance to homeowners by loan servicers regarding the vaguely-possible, future successful loan modification. Many distressed homeowners have completed the trial period only to receive a loan modification that is financially questionable, such as an ARM mortgage.
    f. Further, many loan servicers are misrepresenting the “Three Month Trial” to homeowners as a HAMP product, when in fact the only loan modification available to such homeowners is one of the loan servicer’s own creation and often designed to maximize the potential for default and thus, servicer profits.
    3. In many cases, homeowners are awaiting loan modification review while simultaneously in foreclosure. As loan servicers are notoriously slow to both review such applications and respond to homeowner inquiries, auction dates are often set before the loan modification application has been approved or denied. No auction date should be set before a loan modification application has been approved or denied.
    4. Many loan servicers require that homeowners not attempt to sell their homes while undergoing a loan modification review. For homeowners already in foreclosure, this policy places them significantly at risk of losing their homes and/or equity in the event the loan modification is denied or has not been approved before the auction date imposed by a court.
    a. Homeowners participating in the trial period are also prohibited from placing their homes on the market, which as described above can be a lengthy process, again exposing them to the risk of losing their homes and/or equity.
    b. When facing or defending themselves in a foreclosure or while undergoing the often lengthy process of loan modification, a homeowner’s right to sell the property themselves must not be infringed upon in order to generate additional profit to loan servicers. These policies effectively remove a distressed homeowner’s last recourse to mitigate their losses.

    In summary, distressed homeowners are inadequately protected under these predatory policies. To more fairly balance the needs of loan servicers and the protection of homeowners, these policies should be implemented and enforced by the appropriate regulatory agencies:

    1. Loan servicers should accept and properly apply partial payments of overdue mortgage accounts.
    2. Efforts must be made and enforced to ensure that homeowners are able to reliably reach and/or obtain responses to their inquiries of loan servicers.
    3. Loan modifications must be reviewed in a timely manner, preferably with a pre-defined time limit.
    4. “Three Month Trial Periods” should be accurately identified to homeowners as to whether or not the trial period is related to a HAMP loan modification or the loan servicer’s in-house loan modification.
    5. “Three Month Trial Periods” should not be extended, except upon homeowner’s request.
    6. Pending foreclosure cases should be promptly dismissed upon the initiation of any loan modification “Trial Period.”
    7. Truth-in-Lending Disclosures and all other such disclosures and settlement statements currently required of mortgage lenders should be provided to homeowners before the initiation of any “Trial Period.” This would allow homeowners to make an informed decision regarding the financial suitability of the future loan modification, while still allowing loan servicers to rescind such agreements upon the failure of the homeowner to successfully complete the “Trial Period.”
    8. In a pending foreclosure proceeding, no auction date should be set before a loan modification application has been approved or denied.
    9. The right of a homeowner to sell the property should not be restricted during foreclosure or loan modification review.
    10. All regulations and laws applying to consumer loans, such as RESPA and TILA, must also fairly apply to loan modifications. If first mortgage and refinanced mortgages are subject to such regulations, why are loan modifications not?

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