Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Illegal Foreclosures by Banks in FHA Mortgage Loan Cases?

Are Lenders Improperly Foreclosing in FHA Mortgage Loan Cases?

A must read for anyone with an FHA mortgage loan who is facing foreclosure.


A court recently found that Countrywide Home Loans and Recon Trust Company violated Federal Housing Administration (FHA) regulations when it foreclosed but failed to follow FHA rules in doing so. The FHA is part of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The court stopped the lenders from foreclosing due to their violation of HUD regulations, which were incorporated by reference in the deed of trust. Wells Fargo also appears to have been a party to the case and may have participated in the foreclosure.

The case is Pfeifer et al. vs. Countrywide Home Loans, et al., Ct. App., CA (2012). The opinion is 37 pages, and there was no dissent (in other words, all 3 appellate judges who heard the case agreed). The most important ruling in this case is that Countrywide cannot be allowed to proceed with its foreclosure attempt because it failed in its legal obligation to follow the FHA/HUD requirement that a face-to-face meeting with the borrowers take place (or that the lender at least make good faith efforts to set such a meeting) to discuss foreclosure alternatives before any foreclosure can even be initiated. In the law, the HUD/FHA requirement to meet with the borrowers before proceeding with a foreclosure action is called a "condition precedent".

Countrywide Home Loans, of course, was absorbed by Bank of America (BOA). 

Another important ruling in this case to be mindful of is that this California Appeals Court was consistent with the overwhelming majority of other decisions over the years in that it stated the borrowers did not have a right to monetary damages because the lender violated HUD/FHA regulations. Of course, had the foreclosure already taken place and the borrowers lost their home, that ruling may have been different. However, borrowers must understand that violation of government rules, regulations, and guidelines (as opposed to certain violations of federal codes and statute statutes/codes) typically do not allow borrowers to recover money damages or even attorneys' fees - one huge reason that it's difficult for borrowers to obtain quality legal representation. I frequently have this discussion with clients and potential clients who have been subjected to violations of the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program / Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the National Mortgage (DOJ) Settlement.

Please also understand that there is no guarantee that a court in North Carolina, for example, would reach the same conclusion, and a court in South Carolina, for example, is not bound by this California decision. However, the HUD/FHA regulations at issue here should apply in every state in the USA, and the argument made by these borrowers should at least be treated as credible one in every case in which it is relevant, regardless of the state.

This case involved  a non-judicial foreclosure, which is a short-cut procedure which allows a lender / holder of a loan note to foreclose without any formal court case, and without the approval of any court or judge. Tennessee and Georgia are other states in which residential foreclosures are generally non-judicial. In non-judicial foreclosures, the onus is typically on the borrowers to file their own court action to prevent a foreclosure; this gives foreclosing lenders a huge advantage, as most distressed homeowners are not in a position to file (and fund) such lawsuits. Thankfully, the Pfeifers in this California case were able to file their own lawsuit, seeking a halt to the foreclosure process and a dismissal of the case.

In other states, like Florida, Ohio, and South Carolina, residential foreclosures usually require a full lawsuit. This means that the lender / holder of the mortgage loan note must properly prove its right to foreclose in a court of law. As importantly, because a lawsuit must be filed and litigated in order to foreclose, the borrower already has an existing forum in which to make his/her arguments and present defenses; the borrower generally does not need to file his/her own legal action.

In North Carolina (where McGrath & Spielberger is headquartered), there is a curious "quasi-judicial" process in place for attempts at residential foreclosure. While a full lawsuit need not be filed, a hearing before the Clerk of Court must take place and the Clerk must grant approval before a foreclosure sale can take place. The Clerk of Court is granted certain powers in these instances, powers a clerk of court could not normally have. However, the issues the Clerk of Court can address are very limited, the burden of proof the lender / loan note holder faces is fairly low, and the borrower must file his/her own lawsuit in order to attempt to stop the sale and protest the Clerk of Court's decision.

Regardless of the legal process for foreclosures in your state, whether you're in Atlanta, Charleston, Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, or West Palm Beach, this case is potentially very meaningful.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

About HUD - US Department of Housing and Urban Development

About HUD - United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

HUD(This information taken from the HUD website.) The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) truly came into existence as an independent federal agency in 1965; click here for additional historical details. HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business.

HUD includes the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which insures mortgage loans and allows tens of millions of Americans to purchase homes.

HUD's strategic plan includes the following in the years to come (as of January, 2013):

Promoting Sustainable Homeownership          

  • Assisting homeowners who are at risk of losing their homes due to foreclosure.  

  • Restoring the Federal Housing Administration’s excess capital reserves.

Improving Outcomes for the Poorest Families

  • Reducing the number of households with worst case housing needs.  

  • Increasing the proportion of HUD-assisted families in low-poverty and racially diverse communities.

Ending Homelessness

  • Reducing the number of chronically homeless families, individuals, and veterans.

Catalyzing Energy- and Transportation-Efficient Homes

  • Completing cost-effective energy and green retrofits of public, assisted, and other HUD-supported affordable homes.

  • Reducing the share of household income spent on the combined costs of housing and transportation.  

Revitalizing the Gulf Coast         

  • Expanding the rate of occupied or repurposed Gulf Coast homes in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas severely impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita from 2005.

Transforming HUD

  • Making HUD the “Most Improved Large Agency” in the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government report.

  • Increasing the percentage of customers that are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with “Timeliness of Decision-Making” as measured in the survey of Partner Satisfaction with HUD’s Performance.



About FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Mortgage Loans

About the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and FHA Mortgage Loans

(this information taken from the FHA website, except the italics, which are comments by attorney Jason McGrath)

What is the Federal Housing Administration?   The Federal Housing Administration, generally known as "FHA", provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. FHA insures mortgages on single family and multifamily homes including manufactured homes and hospitals. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world, insuring over 34 million properties since its inception in 1934. The FHA does not make loans itself and does not refinance loans, etc. The FHA does not buy or sell mortgage loans the way Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do.

It is very important to note that mortgage loan lenders and servicers who provide FHA loans must follow rules and regulations put forth by the FHA. This includes with regard to mortgage relief / loss mitigation and foreclosure. The mortgage lenders and their loan servicers benefit from the FHA mortgage insurance, and their failure to comply with FHA rules and regulations can be a violation of contract and law.

What is FHA Mortgage Insurance?   FHA mortgage insurance provides lenders with protection against losses as the result of homeowners defaulting on their mortgage loans. The lenders bear less risk because FHA will pay a claim to the lender in the event of a homeowner's default. Loans must meet certain requirements established by FHA to qualify for insurance. Because FHA insurance reduces the risk for lenders, FHA loans may be easier to qualify for, although these loans have their own restrictions, of course.

Why does FHA Mortgage Insurance exist?   Unlike conventional loans that adhere to strict underwriting guidelines, FHA-insured loans require very little cash investment to close a loan. There is more flexibility in calculating household income and payment ratios. The cost of the mortgage insurance is passed along to the homeowner and typically is included in the monthly payment. In most cases, the insurance cost to the homeowner will drop off after five years or when the remaining balance on the loan is 78 percent of the value of the property -whichever is longer.

How is FHA funded?   FHA is the only government agency that operates entirely from its self-generated income and costs the taxpayers nothing. The proceeds from the mortgage insurance paid by the homeowners are captured in an account that is used to operate the program entirely. FHA provides a huge economic stimulation to the country in the form of home and community development, which trickles down to local communities in the form of jobs, building suppliers, tax bases, schools, and other forms of revenue.

 The History of FHA.   Congress created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in 1934. The FHA became a part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Housing in 1965. When the FHA was created, the housing industry was flat on its back:

  •  Two million construction workers had lost their jobs.

  •  Terms were difficult to meet for homebuyers seeking mortgages.

  •  Mortgage loan terms were limited to 50 percent of the property's market value, with a repayment schedule spread over three to five years and ending with a balloon payment.

  •  America was primarily a nation of renters. Only four in 10 households owned homes.

 During the 1940s, FHA programs helped finance military housing and homes for returning veterans and their families after the war. In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the FHA helped to spark the production of millions of units of privately-owned apartments for elderly, handicapped and lower income Americans. When soaring inflation and energy costs threatened the survival of thousands of private apartment buildings in the 1970s, FHA's emergency financing kept cash-strapped properties afloat.

 The FHA moved in to steady falling home prices and made it possible for potential homebuyers to get the financing they needed when recession prompted private mortgage insurers to pull out of oil producing states in the 1980s.

 By 2001, the nation's homeownership rate had soared to an all time high of 68.1 percent as of the third quarter that year.

 The FHA and HUD have insured over 34 million home mortgages and 47,205 multifamily project mortgages since 1934. FHA currently has 4.8 million insured single family mortgages and 13,000 insured multifamily projects in its portfolio.

 In the more than 60 years since the FHA was created, much has changed and Americans are now arguably the best housed people in the world. HUD has helped greatly with that success.




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

HSBC Did Bad Things (Mexican Drug $, Illegally Helped Iran)

HSBC Did Bad Things (Mexican Drug $, Illegally Helped Iran)

HSBC (originally known as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) has been accused by the USA, and has partially admitted to,  laundering Mexican cartel drug money, engaging in secret and illegal transactions with Iran, and otherwise violating American and international banking rules and laws. According to a Congressional subcommittee, one HSBC executive encouraged the bank to work with the Al Rajhi bank in Saudi Arabia, which has supported Al Qaeda.

As pointed out by a former Undersecretary for Enforcement, US Department of Treasury (who is now a law professor at Notre Dame, "the bank has an obligation to monitor financial transactions through the bank to determine whether or not they're suspicious of criminal activity, including money laundering and terrorist financing." According to the US Department of Justice and Congress, HSBC intentionally turned a blind eye to the incredible sums of money - billions of dollars - which were illegally flowing through it to and from Mexican drug cartels, to and from Iran, and to and from Saudi banks with terrorist ties. America has generally been the biggest contributor to HSBC's profits, ironically.

At the end of the day, however, instead of following through on a criminal case against HSBC - which some believe would have effectively ended HSBC as a major financial institution - a settlement was reached by which HSBC is to pay $1.92 billion  - a mere fraction of the illegal amounts of money which it facilitated. The general opinion of experts is that HSBC did not ultimately face criminal prosecution (amazingly, none of its leaders or employees were indicted either) because it is "too big to fail" - in other words, if HSBC were to be properly punished, the impact on the world economy would be negative. Having been a prosecutor myself, I recognize the public relations spin that comes after a case is resolved but not in the manner it truly could have or should have been; while the accusations were incredibly serious and damning, after the criminal case was dropped, things were portrayed quite differently by the DOJ: "“This is not a case where the HSBC people intended to create money laundering. They did not have the controls in place that they needed.” Oh, well, then, by all means. This is the equivalent of leaving your bank vault open and then claiming some lack of intent when it's robbed.

According to one expert, the former US Department of Treasury enforcement officer referenced above: "I think the HSBC settlement makes a mockery of justice, of the criminal justice system because I don't think until a bank official or bank officials are indicted, prosecuted and sent to jail are bank officials going to take their obligations seriously to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing."

We will never know the details, but it is certain that at least some of this money assisted in the terror that the Mexican drug cartels have spread in recent years throughout Mexico and even to the United States, not to mention the millions of lives that continue to be ruined by drug addictions. In fact, the Mexican gangs have begun to murder journalists who report stories which portray them negatively.

Disgusting at it may be, HSBC is actually having a great run right now, otherwise, with its stock up 31%. Wonderful.

HSBC Mortgage (with which I have dealt on behalf of mortgage relief and foreclosure clients) has approximately $15.5 billion in prime mortgages, and it services another $36.6 billion in mortgage loans for other lenders. It is unknown if this $1.92 billion settlement will impact Americans who have HSBC mortgage loans.




Monday, January 21, 2013

Time Warner Cable negligence to leave baby unprotected?

Time Warner Cable negligence to leave baby unprotected?

UPDATE: I did not sue TWC, and regrettably won't be. We wish you the best in your struggles with TWC.

If you need other legal assistance in one of our states, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Just a few days ago, I wrote about the amazing and embarrassing incompetence we've experienced with Time Warner Cable. Well, shockingly, there is a new chapter to this story, and this one makes me angry.

We've not been actively "using" TWC for actual phone calls for a few months, but the line has remained active to forward calls to the internet-based phone system we are using, pending our complete change-over to a new provider. Our intent has been to port this line over completely - the forwarding was a temporary measure. When I spoke to TWC on January 12 (for over an hour, two different reps.) to cancel the TV and internet, both Time Warner Cable reps. "CONFIRMED" that phone service was NOT being canceled, only TV and internet.

This was very important for another reason - our home security alarm runs, in part, though our home phone line. I am leaving on a trip tomorrow, and my wife and 10 month old baby will be home alone. (Please note that I did not publish this until returning from that trip, in order to not broadcast that I was gone and they home alone with a compromised security system.) We had an alarm scare just a few nights ago, and had the police at our home at 4 a.m. - after I "swept" the home myself, trying to determine if someone had invaded our home or not.

I ended up "chatting" with TWC today. I was told that all services were canceled as of today, including phone. I protested, I explained, I wailed and gnashed my teeth. I explained about leaving town, the wife, the baby, the break-in scare just a few days ago. Too bad, so sad, no assistance was offered by the Time Warner Cable rep. TWC cutting the phone line, after twice confirming it was not, leaves my wife and baby unprotected while I am out of town.

I detest Time Warner Cable. It has earned its title as the "Second Most Hated Company in America."  You don't get to be actually hated unless you just don't care; at some point, incompetence crosses the line into an intentional disregard of industry standards, a negligent pattern of behavior, and a complete lack of care as to the obligations owed to paying customers.

UPDATE: I followed up with TWC via phone after writing the above. The rep. I spoke with said that, thankfully, the phone had not been shut off yet. He was able to reverse that order and the phone stayed on. This TWC rep. apologized, and basically told me that some of his coworkers, due to the way they are paid/evaluated, don't take the time or make the effort to complete the work they start and do not follow through and finalize on the promises made to customers.     


Monday, January 14, 2013

Should I sue Time Warner Cable for what is basically theft?

Should I sue Time Warner Cable for what is basically theft?

UPDATE: I did not sue TWC, and regrettably won't be. We wish you the best in your struggles with TWC.

If you need other legal assistance in one of our states, please don't hesitate to contact us.

I expect to get what I pay for. I expect others, including companies, to perform the services they promise to perform. Time Warner Cable is a joke, one of, if not the, worst large company I have dealt with in my 41 years on this Earth. Personally, I’ve never sued anyone, although I’m an attorney. I’m contemplating suing TWC and I’m curious as to what others think about this. It’s not as if this is the first time TWC has ripped its customers or shareholders off.

In fact, TWC has been rated as the second most hated company in the USA!  (Bank of America on the “rise” on that list).

I’ll very, very briefly summarize what I’ve gone through with TWC (and this is only in the last 18 months, putting aside previous pathetic behavior). This is based on memory – I do have written notes, but I’m not writing this as a legal brief – yet!

In June, 2011 we bought a home here in Charlotte. We scheduled transfer of our Time Warner Cable phone, internet, TV service to the new home. I confirmed that TWC had my cell phone number (despite having updated it at least twice in the past 2 years, they had a very old # on file.) TWC won’t show up for the appointment if you don’t answer your phone when they call in advance of the appointment – I laughingly reminded the TWC rep. to call my cell phone, not the home phone. TWC never showed up, but I enjoyed waiting for hours for them to do so. When I asked why they didn’t show, I was first told they showed up but I wasn’t there – a complete lie, I was there all day and was often in the front yard. Next I was told, by the very same person, that they didn’t show up but rather they called but I didn’t answer . .. TWC confirmed it called the home phone - the TWC phone line, the one that wasn’t even working at the time because they were in the middle of moving it over to the new home! Yes, they called their own number that they were supposed to be reinstalling.

My new neighbors were already (politely) laughing at me: “Wait, you’re doing what? Getting Time Warner in this neighborhood? Good luck, you’ll need it.”

I ended up having to schedule 7 appointments with TWC to get everything up and running. This included twice when Time Warner Cable completely failed to show up, twice when they showed up but said they couldn’t finish for various reasons (including “it’s too hot”), and once when the tech implied that it was somehow my fault for not explaining to TWC what needed to be done (this, after TWC had been to the house 3 times), asked me details about how to install everything, and then suggested I pay someone to come on the weekend to finish up and do the work that TWC would otherwise charge me an arm and a leg for.

I filed a Better Business Bureau complaint. After much effort on my part, TWC made temporary improvements with regard to our service and refunded part of what we had paid.

Fast forward a few months. Some TV stations don’t work at all at times. Some of them freeze. At some point, TWC comes out again, and the guy agrees that we have a weak signal. Gee, ya think?

Fast forward a few more months. The upstairs digital box doesn’t work at all, our secondary TV is now totally out of commission. Some channels downstairs don’t work at all, some freeze. For a short time period, the phone didn’t work at all.

Now, mind you, while I have wasted hour after hour after hour and while I have been paying our bill, we have been getting less than full service. Interesting . . . if we pay only part of our bill, we get the entire service shut off, but Time Warner Cable can get away with demanding full payment while only providing part of the services paid for? You see, in some circumstances, TWC, that is referred to as “theft” or “fraud”.

We also spent about an hour trying to fix our access to our online account. We were told it was corrected, but then a few weeks later experienced the exact same problem and had to again spend more time trying to get this corrected. We were told that they had made the changes and updated the online account and account access.  A few days later, we discovered we could not log in – TWC rep. then informed us the previous two TWC reps. had not actually made the changes/corrections we were told had been made. TWC’s online account system is very inefficient . . . a cynical person might wonder if they intend it to be that way, to make it difficult for customers to access their information online and thus increase the amount of instances in which dissatisfied customers “give up” and just leave the status quo as is. I mean, this is a tech based company – why is their online access and website set up in such a non-customer-friendly way?

If our lives weren’t so busy (I’m running a multi-state law firm, my wife works hard as well, we have a baby, etc.), I would have switched from TWC earlier in time. In the summer of 2012 I started to look into alternatives.

I wanted to know what the cost would be to just use TWC for unlimited nationwide phone (not internet, not TV).  On July 31, 2012, this is what I asked TWC, repeatedly. I was very careful to explain what I wanted and what I was asking for, and I explained it the same way each time, to each TWC rep. I communicated with. The individual who finally (the third time I contacted TWC about this) corrected our online account problem said she could not assist with any pricing, and transferred me to “Joan E”.

I wanted to know who much it would cost me to have unlimited nationwide calling phone service only with TWC (no internet, no TV). “Joan E.” gave me different answers to this very, very simple question within the same online chat . . .after an hour total online, Joan E of Time Warner Cable told me that I would need to drive to a TWC office to get more information.

I then called TWC.  The TWC rep. gave me two different answers, neither of which matched what “Joan E” had told me during the online chat.

I then called TWC back a few minutes later to see if I could get a real answer to the very, very complicated question of “How much would it cost me to have only phone service, with unlimited nationwide calling included, via TWC?” I was told by the TWC telephone customer service and sales that I had to go online to get pricing for phone service.

I went online to chat again and further search for this Holy Grail – the price of TWC phone service! I chatted online with “Rudy”. Rudy of TWC online customer service could not verify any of the previous prices I was given or even give me a price, but told me he would transfer me to someone who definitely could resolve this issue.

I was transferred to “Jake”. Jake of TWC’s online customer service was unable to answer the question of how much it would cost me to have phone service only and wanted to transfer me to someone else. Awesomely, I was transferred back to Rudy!

I told Rudy I wanted a supervisor and I wanted answers, or I was filing (another) BBB complaint. He told me he was transferring me to a supervisor, but then said he was transferring me to just another analyst.

I was transferred to “Don”. I summarized this whole situation for Don, who wanted to transfer me back to sales!  (basically, the “customer service” department and the “sales” department kept passing me back and forth).

On July 31, 2012, I spent almost 3 hours communicating with Time Warner Cable in an attempt to get an answer to the question of “How much would it cost me to have only phone service, with unlimited nationwide calling included, via TWC?”  I communicated with 7 TWC reps. and was transferred 7 times. 5 of the reps. were unable or unwilling to give me any pricing information at all, and the other 2 reps., between them, gave me 4 different answers to the same question.

More recently we began to move forward with finally removing the blight that it is TWC from our lives. A few weeks ago, TWC rep. told me that TWC required 5 days’ advance notice to cancel services. To confirm, I asked “So if I told you today, Monday, to disconnect my services immediately, the earliest you’d do it is Saturday?” The Time Warner Cable rep. confirmed this. As part of the disconnect process, TWC (appropriately) has their reps. attempt customer retention, as studies consistently show it’s much more cost-efficient for companies to give existing customers a break than to have to try to earn new customers; in other words, it’s cheaper to give a current customer a break versus lose an existing customer and have to replace him/her with a new one.  Out of curiosity, I asked what the charge would be for internet only . . the “great deal” I was offered cost more than what TWC publicly offers to brand new customers. Oh. Good job, TWC. No thanks.

We had decided to replace TWC with ATT. I decided to wait until ATT was installed and running before putting in a disconnect order with TWC. Yesterday, we switched to ATT for TV and internet (we switched away from TWC for phone a few months ago). ATT was on time, the first time. They were professional. They appeared to know what they were doing. What they told me made sense. I was so, so happy to take all that TWC junk and put it by the front door (indoors, I’m too rational to have thrown it outside, despite the temptation) for pick-up.

Last night, I called TWC to disconnect. After going through the song and dance about whether I will reconsider, I was put on hold – “I’ll be right back to confirm the cancellation.” I waited. I took out the garbage. I cleaned up the baby’s toys. I talked to my mother in law. I ordered a pizza. I drove to pick the pizza up. Still on hold! After 32 minutes, I was disconnected from TWC, still sitting on hold, still without confirmation that the cancel order was confirmed. Interestingly, 15 minutes before the disconnect, while I was on hold, I got an email saying I had an appointment with TWC this week. If the email is intended to confirm disconnection of servicers (it doesn’t confirm this) , why was I still on hold 15 minutes after the disconnect order was perhaps placed?!

I called back a second time to try to confirm the disconnect order. After going through all the preliminary stuff and waiting on hold, I got to a human being, allegedly in Texas. She said she was putting in the cancellation order immediately .  . . but what about the 5 day waiting period, which her colleague told me about 2 weeks earlier? This TWC rep. knew nothing about that. I just started laughing, perhaps a little crazily. The rep. wanted me to drive the equipment back to a TWC office Monday, but said a tech was coming to the house this Tuesday . . . why would I take an hour out of my day and spend gas money to take the equipment back Monday if a TWC rep. was coming to my house Tuesday? She had no good answer. Ok, well what time range will the tech be at the house Tuesday? “There is no time range.” HUH?  What do you mean no time range? No 8 – 12? No 1-5? No 1 p.m. to midnight at least? I asked her “You do this all day, so you tell me – do people actually agree to just sit in their house all day and night, stay home from work, etc., just to give TWC the boxes back?”  I was wondering if refusing to give even a time range was TWC’s way of making it so difficult that people would just drive the boxes back to the TWC offices.

This discussion went on for a while, then finally I said “Can I mail the equipment back?” The answer was “Yes.”

By this time, I was back at the house with pizza and groceries, and my wife and mother in law were eating pizza and laughing at me while I was, of course, still on / on again with TWC, as I had been an hour earlier when we decided to order pizza.  We agreed that the services were being disconnected immediately. I asked for the mailing address, and the TWC rep. had to put me on hold to get it. I was on hold for 10 more minutes, waiting for TWC to tell me its own mailing address, when I said “Forget this, I can find the damn address myself in less time than this”. I hung up. I then got an email cancelling the “appointment” I had been emailed about earlier.

Wow. Over an hour to get my services cancelled, and even then it wasn’t truly completed. I still need to find the address to send the equipment to. Even on the way out, even as I was slipping through Time Warner Cable’s slimy grip, it still found a way to give me inconsistent information and waste my time.

At this point, I’m approximately 92.5% certain TWC will try to keep billing me into 2014 or so, despite the cancellation. I admit to a burning desire to sue TWC; whether I actually do so or not is up in the air.

If you and I, fair reader, ran our small businesses like this, we’d be out of business in weeks. If I behaved in this manner, I would literally lose my law license and be banned from practicing law, and that’s part of what angers me so much about these kinds of situations – the complete lack of any direct consequences when a company like Time Warner Cable essentially steals from its customers. Make no mistake, taking money for services you don’t provide is fraudulent and shameful. Imagine if you hired me to represent you in a lawsuit, I promised to provide the full services you needed in exchange for $5,000.00 but then knowingly failed to show up at some court hearings, failed to file some of the court documents needed, and gave you inconsistent advice that made no sense? I would be a fraud, a sham, a lawyer in need of punishment. Instead, I’m a lawyer writing about how TWC is in need of punishment.

Should I sue Time Warner Cable?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

BOA mortgage loan modification offers - errors & mistakes abound

BOA Mortgage Loan Modification Offers - Errors & Mistakes Abound

As an attorney who represents mortgage loan borrowers and homeowners, I see more than my share of mistake-filled Bank of America mortgage loan modification offers. I just reviewed another modification offer from BOA, made to new clients of mine. Almost every modification offer I've ever reviewed has significant errors in it, especially BOA's. My goodness, one would think that they would hire a good lawyer to draft these document templates, right? Here are some of the errors / problems in this most recent one: 

A) Dated Dec. 17, allegedly sent via overnight mail on or about Dec. 17, but did not arrive until the end of December, just a few days before the (arguable, see below) January 1 deadline.

 B) Page 2 says "Using the pre-addressed, pre-paid FedEx envelope and the address label provided, return all properly signed and notarized documents and first payment on later than January 1, 2013." (emphasis added). Presumably, this was supposed to say everything is due "NO later than January 1, 2013"  . . . however, as it reads, it is poor English for "everything is due after January 1!" Heck, given that the BOA "single point of contact" (SPOC) who called me yesterday barely spoke English and mangled every 4th word, perhaps he wrote this agreement, and Bank of America  meant to say it's all due after January 1?

C) Page 3 specifically lists the first payment as due on February 1, 2013; another part of page 3 implies that February 1, 2013 is the first due date; but then page 3 specifically states "We look forward to receiving all required documents and your first payment PRIOR to the document return deadline of January 1, 2013." (emphases added)  

As an aside, don't we all wish Bank of America had the foresight to not make thousands of modifications offer responses due on  January 1, 2013, a national holiday date on which BOA isn't even open?  

D) This offer mentions a balloon payment (matures in 25 years, but payments amortized as if it were a 40 year loan) but doesn't state what that payment would be, or even estimate it, despite the fact that such an amount is obviously a material condition to the modification (and very important for the borrowers to know; if this was a loan origination, failure to state the same would presumably be a violation of federal law) and despite the fact that the amount should be ascertainable as this is a fixed rate loan.

 E) This offer, the format for which is different than any I've seen in the past, doesn't state whether it is private/internal, pursuant to the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) / DOJ Settlement, or made under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).

 Keystone Cops, comedy of errors, etc. These borrowers had to make a Hobson's Choice (accept a confusing and unclear offer and pay thousands of dollars or risk losing the chance at mortgage relief) and/or pay someone like me to try to push BOA to clean up this mess, all the while trying to stave off foreclosure and hoping BOA will agree to correct the problems.

Hey, Bank of America - it doesn't have to be this difficult! Yes, some of the challenges you face are truly complex, but, heck, are you telling me one of your $500.00 an hour lawyers couldn't have drafted up a basic document that makes sense?! You need to do better.

McGrath & Spielberger, PLLC provides assistance to those involved in mortgage disputes, including borrowers in need of mortgage relief services such as mortgage loan modification, foreclosure negotiation, and deed-in-lieu or other negotiated settlement resolutions.