Report: Stalled New York Foreclosure Settlement Conferences

Anybody who has ever represented a homeowner in a New York foreclosure settlement conference knows all to well the contents of a report about bank misconduct in these conferences.

MFY Legal Services has, however, compiled the information in a convenient report available to all - advocate and non-advocate alike:

"New York has coped with the foreclosure crisis by implementing a pioneering settlement conference process administered by the court system, designed to promote negotiation of affordable home-saving solutions. These conferences present a remarkable opportunity for lenders and borrowers to meet face- to-face in a court supervised settlement conference at which creative solutions can be forged, and have allowed thousands of New Yorkers to avert foreclosure. But banks routinely flout the law by appearing without required information or settlement authority, causing delays that cost borrowers money and can make home-saving settlements impossible.  The process can be far more effective, and less prone to delay, if the courts rigorously enforce the requirements of the settlement conference law, as this report recommends." (link)

To make the point:

"Non-profit legal services attorneys representing low-income New York City homeowners in New York State Supreme Courts recently concluded a survey to monitor compliance with New York State’s law requiring that lenders and the law firms representing them appear at foreclosure settlement conferences with full authority to settle and resolve such cases

. . .

The survey confirmed what homeowners’ advocates in the settlement conference have long-known:

• The banks routinely violate the settlement conference law requiring them to appear at conferences with full authority to negotiate settlements and with required information needed for meaningful settlement conferences— they violated the law in 80% of the observed settlement conferences.

• The banks’ systemic violation of clear law frustrates New York’s policy to foster the early settlement of foreclosure actions as a means of preserving homeownership.

• The delay caused when the banks violate the settlement conference law harms homeowners, because interest and fees add up with each month that banks delay the process.

• Courts should rigorously enforce the settlement conference law and deter banks from violating it by penalizing parties who appear in court without the authority and information needed to negotiate in good faith" (link)

Time for a more aggressive revised foreclosure settlement conference law in New York?

Sounds like it.