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USPS MAILING RECEIPT IS NOT REQUIRED AND WITNESS TESTIMONY IS SUFFICIENT TO PROVE COMPLIANCE
In Lakeview Loan Servicing, LLC v. Walcott-Barr, Case No. 4D19-1582, the trial court granted the borrowers motion for involuntary dismissal because Lakeview failed to introduce evidence of mailing of the HUD face-to-face letter from the United States Postal Service. On October 14, 2020, the Fourth DCA issued an opinion overturning the trial court’s dismissal and reversed the judgment.
At trial, Lakeview’s witness stated that they visited the property once in an attempt to conduct a face-to-face interview, and the HUD face-to-face letter was: addressed to the Borrowers, sent to the property address, and sent by USPS certified mail. As additional confirmation that the letter was sent by certified mail, the witness identified the USPS certified mail tracking number. However, Lakeview did not introduce any mailing receipt or letter log into evidence. The borrowers argued they were entitled to an involuntary dismissal because there was not a face-to-face interview, and Lakeview had not shown it made reasonable efforts to schedule an interview by a certified letter because it did not produce a mailing return receipt. The trial court concluded that Lakeview needed to introduce evidence of a mailing return receipt from USPS and the case was dismissed.
However, the Fourth DCA held that the plain language of the applicable HUD regulation (see 24 C.F.R. § 203.604(d)) does not require a certified mail receipt from the USPS to establish compliance. Rather, the servicer can introduce other evidence to confirm compliance with the regulation. But, most importantly, the regulation does not limit how a lender can prove such compliance.
Accordingly, the Fourth DCA held that Lakeview established compliance through witness testimony. The witness identified the letter sent to the borrowers requesting a face-to-face meeting. The witness explained that the letter, admitted as an exhibit without objection, was sent to the borrowers at the property address and was sent via USPS certified mail. The witness also identified the USPS certified mail tracking number. Moreover, the letter was sent by a third party vendor, and the witness sufficiently detailed her training of the mailing policies and procedures of her employer and the vendor. Pursuant to the Fourth DCA, this testimony was sufficient to establish a “reasonable effort” under 24 C.F.R. § 203.604(d).
Important to note: In this case, because the HUD regulations were incorporated into the mortgage, the Fourth DCA stated that Lakeview was required to substantially comply with the HUD regulation prior to accelerating the obligation or filing the foreclosure complaint. This issue was recently addressed in PennyMac Loan Services LLC v. Ustarez, No. 4D19-3547, 2020 WL 5541982 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020), which states that the HUD regulation is not a statutory pre-condition to foreclosure applicable to all mortgage foreclosure suits. Instead, PennyMac concluded that incorporation of the HUD regulation into a note or mortgage constituted a self-imposed contractual pre-condition to foreclosure. In other words, compliance with the regulation is only an issue if the note and mortgage contain language requiring compliance. In Lakeview, the loan documents did incorporate the HUD regulation, therefore, the servicer was required to introduce evidence that it complied with the regulations.
Marissa Yaker, Esq. Wins 'Rising Business Leader' Award from Five Star Global in 2020 Women in Housing Feature
[ OCTOBER 6, 2020 | ATLANTA, GA ] Padgett Law Group (PLG), is pleased to announce that Managing Attorney of Foreclosure, Marissa Yaker, Esq., has been recognized by Five Star Global as the 2020 Rising Business Leader award recipient as part of the annual Women in Housing Awards.
Yaker was featured last month in the September issue of The M Report along with all 25 other finalists. Other award categories include the Cultural Leader Award, Community Leadership Award, Diversity & Inclusion, and the Laurie A. Maggiano Legacy Award. With open nominations, each category is narrowed to just five finalists each year in a peer review conducted by Five Star Global’s editorial group and then a final winner is revealed for each category.
Yaker said, "This award is an affirmation that our industry recognizes, encourages, and supports women who have a drive, passion, and desire to question and improve this industry. We each have a voice, but collectively our voice is louder and stronger. I feel grateful to work in an industry that supports one another and helps strengthen professionals such as myself." Her full feature can be read online at TheMReport.com.
The firm was previously recognized in the same category when Keena Newmark, Esq., the firm’s Managing Attorney of Bankruptcy was a top-five finalist, making the 2020 nomination the firm’s second consecutive year in the awards’ top five nominees. In 2019, Newmark was the only non-servicing professional recognized in the category. The same year, The M Report recognized PLG as a Top 25 Place to Work in the default services industry.
Yaker joined PLG in 2017 and has practiced in the residential mortgage default space since 2013. She is licensed to practice in the state Florida. In her role as Managing Attorney of Foreclosure, Yaker oversees foreclosure processing and operations across seven physical locations within the firm’s footprint which includes Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, and Ohio.
ProChamps will implement the requirements outlined below for the City of West Palm Beach on the implementation detailed. Please update information accordingly. The changes outlined will be implemented in our system August 13th, 2020. These changes were made effective May 18, 2020.
Please make note of the following pending changes:
In Ark Real Estate Services, Inc. v. 21st Mortgage Corp., No. 4D20-122, a purchaser of real property at a foreclosure sale sued 21st Mortgage Corp., a mobile home lender that repossessed the mobile home from the land after the sale. The purchaser claimed that the foreclosure judgment extinguished the lender’s lien on the mobile home. On July 29, 2020, the Fourth DCA held that the mobile home lender’s lien survived the foreclosure sale and that the circuit court properly entered judgment against the purchaser on its claims of conversion and civil theft.
On appeal, Ark argued that the mobile home became part of the land. It contends that the mobile home was permanently affixed to the real estate and was captured by the mortgage’s “after-acquired” property clause. Therefore, Ark argued that 21st Mortgage’s security interest in the mobile home was extinguished by the final judgment of foreclosure. The Fourth DCA rejected Ark’s argument for two reasons: 1) under Florida law, the issue of priority is established by statute, so the mobile home’s status as a fixture does not impact the validity of the security interest on the mobile home; and (2) the foreclosure action only extinguished competing interests in the land, not any interest in the mobile home. Accordingly, the first mortgagee’s foreclosure action did not impact 21st Mortgage’s security interest in the mobile home, and 21st Mortgage was well within their rights to repossess the mobile home from the subject property.
On July 29, 2020, the Florida Governor issued an Executive Order extending the foreclosure moratorium until Sept. 1, 2020, but also made some significant carve-outs which will allow for foreclosure files to be initiated and progress through the system. The moratorium now only prohibits the “final action” in a mortgage foreclosure actions, and only applies to single-family mortgages where non-payment is due to the COVID pandemic. It is Padgett Law Group’s reading of the amended moratorium that it would not apply to loans where the default occurred prior to the issuance of the state of emergency in Florida. Additionally, we expect different counties/judges to interpret “final action” to be either sale, certificate of title, or eviction. In summary, absent an investor restriction, a mortgage foreclosure may be initiated and moved all the way to “final action” under the amended moratorium, and in some circumstances through the sale and eviction stage. Click the image below to access our comprehensive COVID-9 response blog for additional moratorium updates and information.
The Florida Legislature passed a new law relating to drafting errors in deeds that went into effect on July 1, 2020. Florida Statute Section 689.041 provides a procedure to cure scrivener’s errors in deeds instead of these issues having to be addressed through litigation. The statute allows for specific errors to be resolved by preparing and recording a “curative notice”. The types of issues that can be corrected with the curative notice are specifically outlined in detail in the statute. The issues that can be fixed include errors or omission in the lot or block information of the property, errors or omissions in the unit, building, or phase identifications of a condo unit, and errors or omissions in a directional call or fraction of a section, township or range in the legal description. However, the statute only applies where there is a “single error” in the legal description. It seems the intent was to limit the number of errors that can be corrected using the curative notice, so deeds with multiple errors may not be able to rely on the statute’s remedy.
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