City of Springfield Banned all Foreclosures! How Will The Supreme Court Rule On That?

 

BOSTON – A group of Western Massachusetts banks argued before the state’s highest court on Thursday that the city of Springfield’s anti-foreclosure ordinances should be overturned.

The banks say the local ordinances contradict state laws, and a bond levied on lenders constitutes an illegal tax. “It’s not that banks are opposed to mortgage laws and reform, but to how it’s being done,” said Craig Kaylor, general counsel for Hampden Bank, one of the banks that brought the lawsuit. “These are for the state to decide, not city by city.”

But the city disagrees and says the laws are necessary to avoid blight and protect neighborhoods that have high rates of foreclosure.

“This is the city’s response to the foreclosure crisis,” said Springfield Assistant City Solicitor Thomas Moore, who argued the case before the Supreme Judicial Court. “It’s a response from the city council and mayor based on what they see every day in the city. They’ve taken the strongest stance to protect homeowners and the city itself.”

The city of Springfield passed two anti-foreclosure ordinances in 2011 as the city was being hit hard by the mortgage foreclosure crisis. One ordinance requires a bank that forecloses on a home to pay for a $10,000 bond, which can be used by the city to maintain the foreclosed properties, if the bank fails to do so.

The other ordinance requires the establishment of a mandatory mediation program to help homeowners facing foreclosure. The bank would be responsible for paying most of the cost of the mediation.

Springfield is among the top cities in the state in the number of distressed properties it has. The city says high rates of foreclosures lead to health and education problems for children in families that lose their homes, and high rates of blighted or vacant properties lead to crime and violence in those neighborhoods.

Six western Massachusetts banks, with Easthampton Savings Bank as the lead plaintiff, challenged the ordinances. A U.S. District court judge upheld the ordinances. However, on appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a stay preventing Springfield from enforcing them. The federal court then asked the Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court, to answer two questions related to state law before the federal court makes its ruling. The case is Easthampton Savings Bank and others vs. City of Springfield.

The SJC must decide whether the local foreclosure ordinances are preempted by existing state foreclosure laws. The court must also decide whether the $10,000 bond is a legal fee or an illegal tax. Cities and towns cannot create taxes without legislative approval.

The banks also argue that the ordinances violate the contract clause of the U.S. Constitution by impairing the contract between the homeowner and the mortgage-holder, a question that remains before the federal court.

During Thursday’s arguments, Tani Sapirstein, an attorney representing the banks, argued that the bond is a tax because banks do not get any particular benefit from paying it – which is the criteria for calling something a fee. The way the bond works is when a foreclosed property is sold, if the city did not have to use the bond money to maintain it, $9,500 would be returned to the bank and $500 is kept by the city as an administrative fee, used to maintain blighted properties and implement the foreclosure laws.

Chief Justice Ralph Gants questioned Sapirstein on whether the bank does not actually receive benefits. “You have an interest in preserving the value of your property,” Gants said. “If there are foreclosed properties going to hell all around your property, it diminishes the value of your property and diminishes the value of what you receive on the foreclosure. Why is this concern about avoiding blight not something that would benefit the bank as well as the city?”

Sapirstein replied that eliminating blight would benefit the bank “as well as the city and other property owners in the neighborhood.” “How is that a particularized benefit?” she said.

Moore argued that the bond is a fee, which the city needs to hire code inspectors and create a database of who controls foreclosed properties.

But Justice Geraldine Hines said if she pays for a copy of her birth certificate, she gets a document in return for the fee. “Here I don’t see that,” she said. “The property owners, the mortgagees, don’t have something tangible.”

Moore said the banks get a “well-regulated industry” and preservation of their property values. In addition, when a bank registers ownership in the database, the city knows who is responsible and problems can be resolved more easily.

Sapirstein also argued that local law cannot require more than state law in an area that is regulated by the state or the result would be “a patchwork of ordinances.”

Gants indicated that the court may move to narrow the ordinances – for example, applying them only to a bank that has taken possession of a house, not a bank that is in the process of foreclosure when the homeowner is still living there. Gants said the ordinance as written could fine a bank for not maintaining a property where the homeowner still lives. As a homeowner, Gants said, “I’d say I’m still living here. This is my home. How can they be punished for not invading what’s still my home just because they happen to be foreclosing on it?” Gants said.

Moore acknowledged that the ordinance may be overbroad and said the city does not anticipate pursuing a violation in a case like that. Moore said the lenders’ lawsuit is premature because there is no information yet about how the city will enforce the laws. “We have the lenders essentially saying the sky will be falling, we are worried about x, y, z happening. None of that has happened and none of that may happen,” Moore said.

Moore said the city is still writing the regulations for the ordinances and if they are upheld, “The city is ready to go forward with implementation within a period of weeks.”

Similar foreclosure ordinances were established in Lynn and Worcester, and local banks challenged those as well. That lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Worcester. The case involving Lynn and Worcester could be affected by the SJC’s ruling in the Springfield case.

Several activists supporting homeowners came in from Lynn and Springfield to hear the arguments. Candejah Pink, a Springfield homeowner and community organizer battled foreclosure for four years before reaching an agreement to keep her home. She helped write the Springfield ordinances. Pink said the bond is there to ensure that homes are maintained, which keeps crime and violence down. The mediation program, she said, is important to help homeowners come to an agreement with lenders. “We’re not asking to live in our homes for free. We’re asking for some mediation,” she said.

Thoughts on Foreclosures

James and I were working outside, and he called me over and we began talking about that which occupies most of out time…  

Foreclosures.  

Many people don’t realize it, but there are many unseen reasons that people are foreclosed on.  After putting people into  toxic loans, and putting those toxic loans into pools with numerous other toxic loans, there was just a matter of time before the loans would go default, we all know that, the payments would become unmanageable.  

But many people, those who came to a better standing than they had been before, and being more prosperous, and even those who were not,  would have gone on to refinance those loans.  That could not be allowed to happen, because the loans would be paid off and the loans dissolved.  How do you stop someone from refinancing their loan?  Foreclose before they can.

They could not have anyone pulling the loans out of the Trusts that the loans had allegedly gone into, there was no money in the Trusts anyway.  The Banksters have a way of turning everything into a matter of profit.

Fed Blesses Banks’ Foreclosure-Rental Approach – Developments – WSJ

April 5, 2012, 5:55 PM

http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2012/04/05/fed-blesses-banks-foreclosure-rental-approach/

Fed Blesses Banks’ Foreclosure-Rental Approach

By Alan Zibel

Reuters Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke

The Federal Reserve set out new polices for banks that decide to rent out foreclosed homes, endorsing a strategy for managing the huge number of distressed properties that have piled up during the housing bust.

The central bank said in a six-page policy statement Thursday that the Fed’s regulations permit the rental of foreclosed properties to tenants “in light of the extraordinary market conditions that currently prevail.” The policy clarified that banks that would otherwise be required to sell off the properties more quickly can turn to rental as a strategy.

Banks can do so “without having to demonstrate continuous active marketing of the property provided that suitable policies and procedures are followed,” the central bank said. The shift to rentals is a significant change in the way banks deal with properties that fall into foreclosure – if loan assistance programs don’t work.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and other central bank officials have spoken publicly about the need to encourage banks to rent out foreclosures. “With home prices falling and rents rising, it could make sense in some markets to turn some of the foreclosed homes into rental properties,” Mr. Bernanke said in a February speech.

The central bank said that banks holding large numbers of foreclosures should establish detailed policies for renting foreclosures, including a process to determine whether the properties are safe to occupy and meet local building code requirements.

The Fed said banks should set up criteria by which properties are picked to be rental properties. The banks should establish plans that “describe the general conditions under which the organization believes a rental approach is likely to be successful,” the central bank said.

Last month, Bank of America Corp. announced a plan to allow homeowners at risk of foreclosure to hand over deeds to their houses and sign leases that will let them rent the houses back from the bank at a market rate.

In addition, Fannie Mae is selling 2,500 homes in eight metropolitan areas around the country. The government-controlled mortgage firm is selling the $320 million portfolio to investors, who would be required to turn them into rental properties.

Follow Alan @AlanZibel

 

NootkaBearMcDonald Says:

It never ceases to amaze me….

First the banks screw the people with toxic loans.

They sale the Note, and then Sale the Deed to someone else, make a whole hell of a lot of money.

Then it is just a matter of time until these pick a pay loans, or negative am loans, adjustable rate loans, get to where you can no longer make the payments, no matter how much money you make.  Face it, the payment went into default when you made your first payment if you had a pick-a-pay loan, you started out making payments that were less than the amount of interest each month.

The homeowner defaults, the banks, who cannot foreclose, due to having sold the Note to one entity, and the Deed to another entity, so they have LPS, DocX, CoreLogic,  Prommis Solutions, or some other unsavory 3rd party default services entity, create falsified, robo-signed and forged documents, because ain’t no way in hell, they’re going to let your house get away.

The Bank then forecloses, no matter what they have to do, they will do it to get that home. 

Then…what are they going to do with yet another home?  Of course, the one with the most homes in the end wins.. but we still have a ways to go before then.  In the meantime, different areas are coming up with fees for having houses sitting with no one living in the homes.

BRAINSTORM!!!  RENT IT OUT!!!

So they stole your home, bought it themselves at the auction, turned the paperwork into the Insurance, got 80% of the amount you defaulted on, and they can either sale it (but there is no one left that can get a home loan, they have done foreclosed on them all) or Rent it out.  Just think!!!  When they get used to the idea, they will be renting you your house, foreclosing on you and selling your house in one swift easy move.

Hell, they should just take your house from you, let you stay there, and change it from house payment to rent, without having to do any paperwork or anything…kind of like the issue of not having the needed documents to foreclose on you.  They will wipe out the need for a Promissory Note and a Deed, they will keep you in your home by renting it to you.