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by Neil Garfield

see http://www.uniformlaws.org/Shared/Committees_Materials/PEBUCC/PEB_Report_111411.pdf

*This article is not a substitute for getting advice from an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction in which your property is or was located.

Back in 2008 I had some correspondence and telephone conversations with an attorney in Chicago, Robert Wutscher when I was writing about the reality of the way in which banks were doing  what they called “securitization of mortgages.” Of course then they were denying that there were any trusts, denying that any transfers occurred and were suing in the name of the originator or MERS or anyone but the party who actually had their money used in loan transactions.  It wasn’t done the right way because the obvious intent was to play a shell game in which the banks would emerge as the apparent principal party in interest under the illusion created by certain presumptions attendant to being the “holder” of a note. For each question I asked him he replied that Aurora in that case was the “holder.” No matter what the question was, he replied “we’re the holder.” I still have the letter he sent which also ignored the rescission from the homeowner whose case I was inquiring about for this blog.

He was right that the banks would be able to bend the law on rescission at the level of the trial courts because Judges just didn’t like TILA rescission. I knew that in the end he would lose on that proposition eventually and he did when Justice Scalia, in a terse opinion, simply told us that Judges and Justices were wrong in all those trial court decisions and even appellate court decisions that applied common law theories to modify the language of the Federal Law (TILA) on rescission. And now bank lawyers are facing the potential consequences of receiving notices of TILA rescission where the bank simply ignored them instead of preserving the rights of the “lender” by filing a declaratory action within 20 days of the rescission. By operation of law, the note and mortgage were nullified, ab initio. Which means that any further activity based upon the note and mortgage was void. And THAT means that the foreclosures were void.

Is discussing the issue of the “holder” with lawyers and even doing a tour of seminars I found that the confusion that was apparent for lay people was also apparent in lawyers. They looked at the transaction and the rights to enforce as one single instrument that everyone called “the mortgage.” They looked at me like I had three heads when I said, no, there are three parts to every one of these illusory transactions and the banks fail outright on two of them.

The three parts are the debt, the note and the mortgage. The debt arises when the borrower receives money. The presumption is that it is a loan and that the borrower owes the money back. it isn’t a gift. There should be no “free house” discussion here because we are talking about money, not what was done with the money. Only a purchase money mortgage loan involves the house and TILA recognizes that. Some of the rules are different for those loans. But most of the loans were not purchase money mortgages in that they were either refinancing, or combined loans of 1st mortgage plus HELOC. In fact it appears that ultimately nearly all the outstanding loans fall into the category of refinancing or the combined loan and HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit that exactly matches the total loan requirements of the transaction (including the purchase of the home).

The debt arises by operation of law in favor of the party who loaned the money. The banks diverged from the obvious and well-established practice of the lender being the same party as the party named on the note as payee and on the mortgage as mortgagee (or beneficiary under a Deed of Trust). The banks did this through a process known as “Table Funded Loans” in which the real lender is concealed from the borrower. And they did this through agreements frequently called “Assignment and Assumption” Agreements, which by contract called for both parties (the originator and the aggregator to violate the laws governing disclosure (TILA and frequently state law) which means by definition that the contract called for an illegal act that is by definition a contract in contravention of public policy.

A loan contract is created by operation of law in which the borrower is obligated to pay back the loan to the source of the funds with or without a written instrument. If the loan contract (comprised of offer, acceptance and consideration) does not exist, then there is nothing to enforce at law although it is possible to still force the borrower to repay the money to the actual source of funds through a suit in equity — mainly unjust enrichment. The banks, through their lawyers, argue that the Federal disclosure requirements should be ignored. I think it is pretty clear that Justice Scalia and a unanimous United States Supreme Court think that argument stinks. It is the bank’s argument that should be ignored, not the law.

Congress passed TILA specifically to protect consumers of financial products (loans) from the overly burdensome and overly complex nature of loan documents. This argument about what is important and what isn’t has already been addressed in Congress and signed into law against the banks’ position that it doesn’t matter whether they really follow the law and disclose all the parties involved in the transaction, the true identity of the lender, the compensation of all the parties that made money as a result of the origination of the loan transaction. Regulation Z states that a pattern of behavior (more than 5) in which loans are table funded (disclosure of real lender withheld from borrower) is PREDATORY PER SE.

If it is predatory per se then there are remedies available to the borrower which potentially include treble damages, attorneys fees etc. Equally important if not more so is that a transaction, whether illusory or real, that is predatory per se, is therefore against public policy and the party seeking to enforce an otherwise enforceable document cannot do so because of the doctrine of unclean hands. In fact, if the transaction is predatory per se, it is dirty hands per se. And this is where Judges get stuck and so do many lawyers. The outcome of that unavoidable analysis is, they say, a free house. And their remedy is to give the party with unclean hands a free house (because they paid nothing for the origination or acquisition of the loan). I think the Supreme Court will not look kindly upon this “legislating from the bench.” And I think the Court has already signaled its intent to hold everyone to the strict construction of TILA and Regulation Z.

Full article here