So, I received the good news last week that the courts have ordered my mortgage company to work out a rental agreement with me.
My attorney asked me to find a broker or realtor willing to give me some comps from the area who was also willing to sign a declaration that the rents were the lowest. The problem came when I found out that rent prices have increased so steeply in my area lately that, at best, I could wind up paying $800/mo MORE than my original mortgage payment amount!
I couldn’t believe it. Especially as I had gotten pricing in 2007, in the event I decided to rent my house out and relocate, which had shown I would have had to pay someone $300/mo to rent it. Obviously, I decided to put relocating on hold. We scoured Craigslist and found some homes that weren’t on the comps list, for whatever reason, and are basing our argument on those homes, as well as the house behind mine which rented out in May of this year for about what my mortgage payment was. Fingers crossed!
This brings up a deep question, though… If the rent amount established is significantly higher than my original mortgage payment, should I just move and continue to fight on my civil actions? Two people I have spoken with in the real estate legal field have suggested that forcing a rent arrangement might move the lender to settle with me. Let me know what you think!
Fourteen months after my lender’s attorney offered us a settlement agreement (21 months after filing the notice of eviction) – an agreement to modify my loan – they dismissed the case without specifying a reason. They had requested and “lost” my financial documents 3 times over that period, and never made a single verbal or written modification proposal. We were jubilant that the case had been dismissed, yet there was a nagging feeling that we weren’t out of the woods just yet.
Sure enough, about two months later, we received a new eviction notice on our door. My heart sank. I had held on to a small hope that maybe, just maybe, my situation might have slipped through the cracks. It was a new case, but because the sneaky prosecution had taken advantage of the fact that they can serve anytime within 30 days after they filed, instead of having several weeks to respond, we had only five days.
At this point, I have been fighting the second eviction case for almost a year. Because the lenders’ attorneys decided to fight rather than offer a modification (again), I spent a lot more time in court, observing other people’s cases and mine. It was very disturbing to watch homeowners and their attorneys go in front of the judges, who wouldn’t even listen to anything they had to say.
One of my attorneys told me in one of his cases, the judge actually said that he had all the evidence he needed from the prosecution (the banksters), and that he didn’t need any evidence being offered by the defendant (the homeowner). He had the gall to inform them that he had to make a decision by the following week because his boss told him to. Where is the justice system at work in that??? With robosigning running amok and documents being photoshopped, how could any judge rely upon the perpetrators of fraud to present factual, unaltered documents? Just because they are supposed to, doesn’t mean they will. After all, haven’t most lenders committed fraud in lending? I haven’t heard anyone point to a lending institution and say, “this corporation is the only one that didn’t participate in the wide-scale fraud”. And adding in the fact that this was at the behest of his boss just tells me that most judges are receiving instructions from higher-ups that appear to be at adds with what the justice system is supposed to be about.
In my case, my attorney and I have been in front of no fewer than eight different judges in our local courthouse. At one of the last hearings, the judge told my attorney that he could not argue the issue of “promissory estoppel” (more on that later), even though the California statutes clearly state that it is allowable! Then, a filing my attorney had sent in was missing from the file, even though the accompanying fees had been paid. My attorney requested he have his clerk call the Office of the County Clerk to verify whether the paperwork had been received, and this request was denied. He refused to allow a recess so we could personally go to the Clerk of the Court and find out what happened to it. Then, he decided the case in favor of the lender.
We went to the Clerk’s office and discovered that, due to the 3-day weekend that had just passed, there was a backlog and the paperwork had been processed, but not scanned into the system. He had just dismissed the case on a technicality, which could easily be overturned. More than that, though, this judge had caused what could have been irreparable harm to me, by causing me to lose my home because of his own inflexibility and pigheadedness.
My attorney filed an appeal, and we stood in front of the same judge, who refused to hear my case yet again. “You can’t file an appeal just because you didn’t like the decision I made,” he spat. (Literally.) “Your honor, you dismissed in favor of the opposition because a piece of paper was missing. You refused to allow a recess so I could check on the status with the Clerk of the Court. The paperwork was there, had been there for three days, but hadn’t been scanned in yet.” This was not a quiet statement – he had to yell over the judge spitting invective.
This is when being prepared came in handy. My lawyer then switched it up and asked him to recuse himself, because we clearly could not get a fair trial in his courtroom. He had brought along an associate, so when the judge refused to recuse himself, the associate ran to the Clerk’s office, filed an order for him to recuse himself, and brought back the stamped copy which he then presented to “His Honor”. Can you believe the jackhole refused to read it, then ruled – contrary to the order that had just been filed with the Clerk – that he would not recuse himself. The hearing was scheduled for after the lunch recess.
When we returned, the judge’s clerk informed us that he did not “have time” to hear our argument, so it had been remanded to another judge. Surprise!!! He must have read the brief on his lunch. Smart move for once, because had he ignored it, he would have had to go before a panel of his peers to explain why he had made the decisions he had, and subverted an order. I have to admit, I was celebrating inside. It was a small, barely discernible “win”, but he was so relentless in his support of the lender, without even allowing any argument from my side, I felt he had gotten a small bit of the comeuppance due to him.
And I hoped with all my heart that, next time, the next judge we had would listen and give us an opportunity to tell our side of the story. We had spent too much time speaking empty words to deaf ears.