What is a Wrongful Foreclosure Action?
A wrongful foreclosure action typically occurs when the lender starts a non judicial foreclosure action when it simply has no legal cause. Wrongful foreclosure actions are also brought when the service providers accept partial payments after initiation of the wrongful foreclosure process, and then continue on with the foreclosure process. These predatory lending strategies, as well as other forms of misleading homeowners, are illegal.
The borrower is the one that files a wrongful disclosure action with the court against the service provider, the holder of the note and if it is a non-judicial foreclosure, against the trustee complaining that there was an illegal, fraudulent or willfully oppressive sale of property under a power of sale contained in a mortgage or deed or court judicial proceeding. The borrower can also allege emotional distress and ask for punitive damages in a wrongful foreclosure action.
Causes of Action
Wrongful foreclosure actions may allege that the amount stated in the notice of default as due and owing is incorrect because of the following reasons:
- Incorrect interest rate adjustment
- Incorrect tax impound accounts
- Misapplied payments
- forbearance agreement which was not adhered to by the servicer
- Unnecessary forced place insurance,
- Improper accounting for a confirmed chapter 11 or chapter 13 bankruptcy plan.
- Breach of contract
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress
- Unfair Business Practices
- Quiet title
- Wrongful foreclosure
Any time prior to the foreclosure sale, a borrower can apply for an injunction with the intent of stopping the foreclosure sale until issues in the lawsuit are resolved. The wrongful foreclosure lawsuit can take anywhere from ten to twenty-four months. Generally, an injunction will only be issued by the court if the court determines that: (1) the borrower is entitled to the injunction; and (2) that if the injunction is not granted, the borrower will be subject to irreparable harm.
Damages Available to Borrower
Damages available to a borrower in a wrongful foreclosure action include: compensation for the detriment caused, which are measured by the value of the property, emotional distress and punitive damages if there is evidence that the servicer or trustee committed fraud, oppression or malice in its wrongful conduct. If the borrower's allegations are true and correct and the borrower wins the lawsuit, the servicer will have to undue or cancel the foreclosure sale, and pay the borrower’s legal bills.
Why Do Wrongful Foreclosures Occur?
Wrongful foreclosure cases occur usually because of a miscommunication between the lender and the borrower. This could be as a result of an incorrectly applied payment, an error in interest charges and completely inaccurate information communicated between the lender and borrower. Some borrowers make the situation worse by ignoring their monthly statements and not promptly responding in writing to the lender’s communications. Many borrowers just assume that the lender will correct any inaccuracies or errors. Any one of these actions can quickly turn into a foreclosure action. Once an action is instituted, then the borrower will have to prove that it is wrongful or unwarranted. This is done by the borrower filing a wrongful foreclosure action. Costs are expensive and the action can take time to litigate.
The wrongful foreclosure will appear on the borrower's credit report as a foreclosure, thereby ruining the borrower’s credit rating. Inaccurate delinquencies may also accompany the foreclosure on the credit report. After the foreclosure is found to be wrongful, the borrower must then petition to get the delinquencies and foreclosure off the credit report. This can take a long time and is emotionally distressing.
Wrongful foreclosure may also lead to the borrower losing their home and other assets if the borrower does not act quickly. This can have a devastating affect on a family that has been displaced out of their home. However, once the borrower’s wrongful foreclosure action is successful in court, the borrower may be entitled to compensation for their attorney fees, court costs, pain, suffering and emotional distress caused by the action. Fortunately, these wrongful foreclosure incidences are rare. The majority of foreclosures occur as a result of the borrower defaulting on their mortgage payments.
Avoiding Wrongful Foreclosure Actions
The best way to prevent and avoid wrongful foreclosure is for the borrower to keep accurate records and to review each communication received with the lender. Communication with the lender is key. This way any discrepancies can be caught early on before they turn into inaccuracies and lead to a wrongful foreclosure action.