Posts tagged ‘Section 9-x’

Everything You Need to Know about Foreclosures but have been Too Afraid to Ask

The only thing more confusing than the latest government pronouncements about the proper response to the pandemic has been trying to figure out the status of foreclosures in New York State. There has been a multitude of guidance ranging from emergency regulations to pronouncements by the Department of Financial Services on the state level to federal legislation and industry letters from the GSEs on the federal level. These competing orders each have their own end dates and nuances, creating the perfect storm for compliance departments trying to do the right thing. Fortunately, there are signs that the confusion is beginning to come to an end as the courts step in and clarify the scope of all these competing requirements. 

Against this backdrop, the case that I think you all should read this morning is Money Source, Inc. v. Mevs, in which Judge Thomas Whelan wrote an extensive analysis describing the state of foreclosure law in New York. Although a court decision in Suffolk county does not bind the rest of the state, it can be used as persuasive authority for those of you still trying to figure out how to deal with foreclosures during the pandemic. Before I get into the weeds, the Judge succinctly summarizes the state of New York’s foreclosure laws as follows: 

“(1) that the moratorium of the CARES Act has expired; (2) the Governor’s most current EO, that is, 202.48, only precludes enforcement of commercial foreclosure proceedings; and (3) the most recent and controlling AO from the CAJ, that is, AO/131/20 (as amended), only remains in effect for such time “as state and federal [*8]emergency measures addressing the COVID-19 pandemic amend or suspend statutory provisions governing foreclosure proceedings…” There is no longer any state prohibition on pre-COVID-19 residential foreclosure proceedings and the new state legislation, detailed above, is addressed to initiation of new proceedings.”

The first source of confusion were the Governor’s executive orders. To be clear, much of this confusion was unavoidable since executive orders must be renewed every 30 days, and must be amended to reflect changes in law. Originally, EO 202.14 prohibited residential foreclosure actions stipulating that there should be “no initiation of a proceeding or enforcement of a foreclosure action.” Yours truly has always read this order conservatively. Specifically, since the order applied not only to foreclosure actions, but to proceedings “leading to foreclosures,” it is my opinion that the order not only prevented foreclosures, but the sending of pre-foreclosure notices mandated by Section 1304 of New York’s Real Property and Proceedings Law. 

Fortunately, this is no longer a valid concern. On June 7th, the Governor issued EO 202.48, which recognized that the executive orders were now superseded by the creation of Section 9-x of the Banking Law. This law applies to individuals in need of residential mortgage forbearances beginning in March 2020 and will be in existence on a county by county basis until there are no restrictions on non-essential gatherings of any size in the county in which the residence is located. According to the court, “there is little doubt that the new statute is designed to address mortgages affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and should not apply to borrowers who defaulted before March 7, 2020.” Remember, where the law does apply, lenders seeking to go forward with foreclosures must demonstrate that they have complied with 9-x. 

Section 9-x does not apply to federally-backed mortgages. In other words, if you are servicing a mortgage loan and holding it in your portfolio, 9-x applies, but if you are simply servicing a loan that has been sold off to the GSEs, federal standards apply. 

This seems clear enough at first. After all, the CARES Act only provided a moratorium on foreclosures through May 15, 2020. The GSEs, however, are technically private companies that can set their own standards. I say technically because they are also bankrupt and are overseen by the Congressionally created Federal Housing Finance Agency. The FHFA recently announced they would not foreclose on property until at least December 31, 2020.

September 29, 2020 at 9:39 am Leave a comment

Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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