Going Too Far with Foreclosure Action, find a Long Island Foreclosure Attorney

English: Foreclosure Sign, Mortgage Crisis

English: Foreclosure Sign, Mortgage Crisis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For families in Long Island, foreclosures are a scary prospect, but some homeowners have been faced with an even more frightening scenario. A recent lawsuit in Illinois alleges that many individuals have been illegally harassed during evictions by subcontractors representing their lenders.

The Bank’s Side

As the economy has declined over the last several years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of foreclosures. Some families would fall behind on their mortgage payments and move out of their home, leaving it vacant and subject to deterioration and vandals. In an effort to maintain the value of the properties, banks hire property management firms to deal with the problems common to vacant homes. These firms then subcontract the actual work to smaller companies. The subcontractors first determine if the house is still occupied. If it is vacant, they then change the locks, winterize the property, and take care of other necessary maintenance.

This system tempts contractors to act dishonestly, however: because a vacant home will result in additional work for the contractor, he has a financial motivation to ignore evidence of occupancy. However, both the banks and the property management firms claim to exercise strict oversight to prevent this built-in bias from affecting their work.

The Homeowner’s Side

Unfortunately, families facing Long Island foreclosures or foreclosures in other parts of the country have a different story to tell. Homeowners recount incidents where obvious signs of occupancy were ignored and a property was incorrectly declared to be vacant. They report having their homes broken into and personal property destroyed or discarded. Others claim that they were told that they must leave their homes immediately, even though they were still in the midst of the foreclosure process.

The Law

A recent $26 billion settlement between 49 states and five major banks, called the National Mortgage Settlement, has direct bearing on this situation. Although the case that precipitated the settlement dealt with banks’ oversight of their foreclosure lawyers, the terms of the settlement require lenders to carefully monitor the activities of all of their third-party vendors. These vendors, of course, would include property management firms and their subcontractors.

If you are being harassed in this way by a property management firm or their representative, you do have legal recourse. Even though you have fallen behind in your mortgage payments and become involved in the Long Island foreclosures process, you should not be prematurely forced out of your home. Contact the law office of David Witkon today for a free consultation about your situation and your available options.

Foreclosure Over a $6.00 Debt? | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Foreclosures in Brooklyn and throughout the New York area are something that every homeowner works hard to avoid. Most individuals know that missed mortgage payments can lead to this unfortunate outcome, but they may not realize that missed tax payments can have the same result. One Pennsylvania widow has learned this fact the hard way.

The Story

Eileen Battisti, a widow living in western Pennsylvania, resides in a home worth approximately $280,000. When her husband passed away in 2004, she had to assume responsibility for the finances. As she struggled to sort things out, she fell behind on some of the property taxes due on the home. Battisti tried to take care of the debt by paying off all the taxes of which she was aware. Unfortunately, she missed a $6.30 charge that had been listed on her 2009 tax bill. By late 2011, late fees and penalties were added to that amount for a total of $235 owed to the county. Battisti states that she received no further notice of her debt until she was informed that her house was scheduled to be sold at auction. Upon receiving the notification, she attempted to obtain a court hearing but was denied. Her house was sold for $116,000 – a fraction of its worth.

The Next Step

Just like smart homeowners facing foreclosures in Brooklyn, Eileen refused to give up without a fight. She went back to court and filed an appeal of sale. Under the law, the new owner cannot take possession of the property while the sale is being appealed, so Eileen has been living in her “sold” home for nearly two years. Recently, a judge ruled that the court should not have denied her original request for a hearing. The relatively small amount owed compared to the value of the home should have at least merited a consideration of her case.

The Back Story

The final outcome for Eileen Battisti remains to be seen, but at least she will have an opportunity to present her case in court. Her situation is not an isolated one, however. Many local governments are using delinquent tax payments as a way to bolster tight budgets and are aggressively pursuing homeowners with late or missed payments. Although this particular case may have been mishandled, many others have been conducted completely within the law. One report states that a year’s tax lien sales equal more than $15 billion.

If you are facing foreclosure due to delinquent property tax payments, it is important to obtain good legal representation as quickly as possible. The professionals of Witkon Law are ready to help with foreclosures in Brooklyn and throughout the Long Island area. Contact our office today for a free consultation.

Living in Fear of Eviction | Long Island Eviction Lawyer

To residents in Suffolk County, eviction is a dreaded threat. Not only does it remove them from their home, but having an eviction on their record can make it nearly impossible for them to find another affordable place to rent. A new trend sweeping the nation’s cities could give them yet another reason to be fearful of this outcome.

Nuisance Property Ordinance

Many cities have passed or are considering laws known as nuisance property ordinances. These laws are designed to deal with neighborhoods that have high crime rates. Under such ordinances, landlords are required to evict tenants if the property requires frequent visits from the police due to 911 calls from the tenants or neighbors. Although the laws sound good in theory, their application has resulted in some unexpected consequences.

A Case in Point

One single mother in Pennsylvania discovered firsthand how this legislation might affect some tenants. She had called 911 at various times because of an abusive boyfriend. After one call, the police told her that they would ask her landlord to evict her if they were called again. The abusive boyfriend was released from jail and showed up at her property demanding to stay. Rememberig the police’s warning, she felt that she had no choice but to let him in. Within a few days, there was another argument with the man that resulted in him attacking her with a broken ashtray. Despite the four-inch laceration on her neck, she begged her neighbor not to call 911 lest she be evicted. After she passed out, her neighbor called, and she was airlifted to the hospital for treatment. Despite her obvious injuries, city officials ordered her evicted from the property.

Evaluation of the Laws

Once the woman got the ACLU involved, the city backed down from its eviction demand, but these laws are still on the books in numerous other cities and towns. It may not be long before Suffolk County evictions are occurring on this basis as well. Although no one wants to live in a neighborhood with a crime-ridden property, there is some question as to whether penalizing residents for calling 911 is the right answer. Such laws seem to unfairly discriminate against battered women and minorities. They also make individuals hesitant to call the police when they need help. When the laws are used as the basis for an eviction, the affected parties have little or no legal recourse.

It is important for area residents to be aware of the guidelines governing Suffolk County evictions, and it is always a good idea to secure legal advice whenever you have a concern that your home may be in jeopardy. The attorneys of David Witkon Law are experienced in dealing with landlord tenant situations and can help you think through your available options. Contact the office today for a free consultation.

Judicial vs. Non-Judicial Foreclosure: What’s the Difference? | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Foreclosure

Foreclosure (Photo credit: zane.hollingsworth)

According to New York state law, Nassau County foreclosures can be either judicial or non-judicial. These terms are unfamiliar to many, and often homeowners are unaware that their house may be eligible for a non-judicial foreclosure.

Judicial Foreclosures 

A judicial foreclosure is the more common type of foreclosure proceeding in the state of New York. In this process, the lender files suit against the borrower for nonpayment. There is typically a lengthy court proceeding to determine if the lender has the rights to the property and if the borrower is truly in default on the loan. During this time, the borrower can offer a defense and may be able to negotiate a settlement with the lender. If the court decides in favor of the lender, the borrower typically has a period of time in which to pay the amount owed. If payment is not made, then the court will authorize the sale of the house, often by public auction.  Most Nassau County foreclosures are of this type.

Non-Judicial Foreclosure

A non-judicial foreclosure is a much faster process than a judicial one. As is evident from the name, this type of foreclosure does not involve the court system. In a state that permits non-judicial foreclosures, buyers sign an additional piece of paperwork when they receive their mortgage. This paper contains some special wording known as a power of sale clause. This clause gives the lender the authority to sell the property if the buyer defaults on their mortgage payments. Since the legal authority has already been granted, this process can occur very quickly. The only warning that an individual may receive of an impending foreclosure is the notice that the house is up for sale. At this point, the borrower has very little time to produce a payment or mount any sort of defense. In fact, since the court system is not involved, the borrower must be the one to file a case to obtain a temporary injunction to prevent the sale. This process can be very fast and scary for an unprepared homeowner.

This sort of legal situation is a perfect example of one of the reasons homeowners should seek legal counsel to protect themselves against Nassau County foreclosures. Potential homeowners may sign paperwork permitting non-judicial foreclosures without even being aware of its inclusion. Those who receive a notice that their home is being sold are nearly completely defenseless without legal guidance. Don’t wait for this kind of scenario to happen to you. Contact Witkon Law today for a free consultation on your potential property purchase and ensure that your home is protected from such summary action.

Tenants Stuck Outside for Months | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer | Attorney

English: Looking east across 33d St at former ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For any group of tenants in Long Island, eviction is always a fear, even if a distant one. Typically, however, the landlord initiates an eviction. When tenants are instead removed from their dwellings by the city, the results can be devastating.

81 Bowery

In Chinatown on Bowery Street, there is a single-room occupancy tenement. It is rent controlled and occupied mainly by Chinese immigrants. They live in tiny cubicles and share a bathroom with other tenants, paying $200 a month for the privilege. But despite these cramped conditions, they consider their dwellings home and have built close relationships with the other residents

Unfortunately for these individuals, the owners of their building have a history of poor property management and have been cited with numerous code violations. In November of 2008, the city ruled the tenement too hazardous for occupancy and expelled the residents from their homes. Nine months later, they were finally permitted to return. Despite this incident, management continued to neglect the upkeep of the building.

Recent Events

On March 7, the history of this Manhattan eviction was repeated. The previous week, news station CNN had run a piece about the living conditions in the tenement. An Arizona viewer saw the report and called the city. In response, the city issued a vacate order. New York Fire Department personnel arrived at the building in the middle of the day when most residents were at work. They broke down the doors to all the rooms, and, as tenants returned home, informed them that must immediately leave the premises. The Red Cross offered shelter for a few days, but residents soon found themselves on the streets.

The Present

Now, more than four months later, these individuals are still homeless. Despite promises that management would address code violations within two weeks of the eviction, the building remains unsafe for occupancy. Tenants have organized protests to no avail. These individuals seem to have been overlooked and forgotten by both the city and their landlord. Only time will tell if they will again be able to obtain housing that is both safe and affordable.

There are things tenants can do to prevent this Long Island eviction story from repeating itself. It is vital for residents of a building to stay aware of the conditions of their dwelling and take steps to force landlords to deal with violations. If a landlord does not respond to requests, legal action must be taken before the living conditions become hazardous. If you have concerns about your landlord’s response to problems in your dwelling, you should protect yourself by seeking legal counsel immediately. The Long Island Landlord Tenant attorneys at Witkon Law are happy to help you consider your options. Don’t allow your landlord’s neglect to cause an eviction in Long Island. Contact Witkon Law today for a free consultation.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Bank Employees Rewarded for Bringing About Foreclosures

As many homeowners worry about the high number of foreclosures in Long Island and struggle to make their mortgage payments, reports of one company’s questionable business tactics are likely to precipitate both fear and anger in their hearers. Former employees of Bank of America are testifying on behalf of homeowners who were denied modifications to their loans. If their stories are true, every individual with a mortgage will have cause for concern.

The Allegations

Some former employees of Bank of America state that the company awarded cash bonuses of $500 to employees who sent at least 10 cases into foreclosure. Smaller numbers of foreclosures reportedly earned gift cards for retail stores.  Another employee reported receiving $25 bonuses and restaurant gift cards for denying applications for loans. Because of this reward system, the employees were motivated to meet quotas of foreclosures and loan disqualifications by any means necessary. Some individuals report incidents of managers removing paperwork from a file in order to disallow an application or simply rejecting applications without a sound basis. In fact, some allege that Bank of America actually instructed employees to delay and mislead customers. This information has been furnished in support of a lawsuit currently pending in the court system. The case was filed by a group of homeowners who were denied permanent loan modifications even after properly completing the application and trial program.

The State of New York

Unfortunately, this recent report is not the first instance of mishandled foreclosures in Long Island and throughout the state of the New York. In fact, Bank of America, along with four other mortgage companies, agreed to a $25 billion settlement in 2012 in response to accusations of improper foreclosures. The settlement prescribed guidelines to protect homeowners from abusive foreclosure proceedings. Included in the guidelines were specific timelines and procedures for dealing with loan modification applications. Based on the reports of Bank of America employees, a New York attorney has announced that he plans to bring a lawsuit against the company for violating the settlement agreement.

The Response of the Company

Bank of America is denying all allegations and claiming that these former employees are grossly misrepresenting both the actions and intents of its staff. They state that they are committed to helping customers who find themselves under the threat of foreclosure. They also argue that the state of New York has no basis for their threats to take legal action against the company.

This report simply underscores the importance of retaining qualified legal representation when threatened with foreclosure. Homeowners facing foreclosures in Long Island can find assistance at the Witkon Law firm. Contact us today for a free consultation.

HSBC in Trouble for Irregular New York Foreclosures | Long Island Landlord Tenant Lawyer

English: Sign of the times - Foreclosure

English: Sign of the times – Foreclosure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Borrowers and banks usually enjoy a friendly relationship. It’s an exciting day when an individual or couple signs the papers for a mortgage, sealing the deal on their new home. Handshakes, smiles, and free pens make the whole process festive—a milestone in the life of a growing family. But when things have not gone according to plan and foreclosure is on the horizon, that relationship often changes for the worse.

Shady Activities

In New York, foreclosures are notoriously common; so common, in fact, that officials conducted an investigation concluding that a number of different banks were at fault for failing to follow the correct protocols when pushing for foreclosure. HSBC, a prominent mortgage lending bank, was not included in the investigation, but New York’s attorney general has filed a separate lawsuit against the bank, accusing it of the same kinds of shady activities.

Not Willing to Help

At issue is a legal requirement that a bank offer help, in the form of negotiations to modify loan terms, when a borrower is in trouble. This requirement is intended to give homeowners a last alternative to foreclosure, with both the borrower and the lender making compromises. Unfortunately, the attorney general’s lawsuit alleges that many New York foreclosures conducted by HSBC did not include those negotiations.

Stalling Tactics

Many New York homeowners are shocked to discover the kind of stalling tactics that their banks engage in when their home is on the line. The attorney general will seek to prove that HSBC put off the required negotiations for months, and even years in some cases, while continuing to allow the borrowers to get farther behind on their loans. The farther behind a borrower is, the less likely it is that negotiations to avoid foreclosure will be successful.

The Lawsuit’s Goal

In filing the case against HSBC, the attorney general will attempt to recover damages for those who have already been the victims of irregular New York foreclosures. In addition, of course, he will try to ensure that HSBC complies with state law in the future, giving troubled homeowners the chance to stay in their homes and follow a modified payment plan to meet their loan obligations.

If you are in danger of foreclosure and want to know what your options are, contact us for a free consultation. We will work to prevent foreclosure and negotiate a plan that will keep you in your home.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Foreclosures in New York Increasing | Long Island Attorney

Half million dollar house in Salinas, Californ...

Half million dollar house in Salinas, California under foreclosure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much of the nation is seeing encouraging signs of an improving housing market. Foreclosures are decreasing in nearly every state. However, in a few states, the number of foreclosures continues to rise.

A Recent Report

Realty Trac, Inc., a foreclosure listing firm, released a report in mid-April that detailed the number of home repossessions and compared them with numbers from the previous year. Thirty-four states reported a decline in the number of foreclosures. Twelve states saw an increase. The state of New York had the most dramatic upsurge with a two hundred percent increase in foreclosure starts during March of 2013 as compared with March of 2012. According to Realty Trac’s statistics, the Long Island area of New York was particularly impacted by these high numbers. Suffolk County and Nassau County hold the first and third positions for foreclosure rates. The data shows that 1 in every 465 homes in Suffolk County is in the process of repossession.

The Demographics

Another report compiled by the Empire Justice Center takes a look at the demographics of these threatened homeowners. The report states that the communities in Long Island with the highest numbers of foreclosures are also the areas where a major concentration of African-American and Hispanic families resides. These neighborhoods also tend to have an unusually sharp decline in home values and poor access to loans and other assistance.  Empire’s statistics show that Long Island represents nearly 26 percent of the state’s foreclosure filings for the first half of 2012.

A Response

These statistics are unsettling, but not nearly as frightening as the predicaments of the homeowners they represent. These hard numbers represent hundreds of real families, struggling to make ends meet, yet facing the loss of the property they worked so hard to purchase. When the first summons arrives, they will likely be devastated, unsure of what to do or where to turn. It is important to communicate to these homeowners that help is available. An experienced foreclosure lawyer can help them to mount a vigorous defense. From negotiations to loan modifications, there are a number of options that may enable these families to keep their homes, but it is important to act quickly.

If you or someone you know is experiencing this devastating scenario, the law offices of Witkon Law can help. Don’t let foreclosure end your family’s dreams of home ownership. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Help When Facing Foreclosure

No one wants to consider the possibility of foreclosure, yet more and more Americans have faced this nightmare in recent years.

The Statistics

In the time since the beginning of the economic recession in 2008, more than 4 million homes have experienced foreclosure. CoreLogic, a data collection company, recently reported a national foreclosure inventory of more than 1 million homes — about 3 percent of all homes carrying a mortgage. Yet, many of these statistics have little correlation with personal fiscal responsibility. Rather, the high foreclosure rate is a result of a great number of unemployed or underemployed individuals, falling housing values, and a myriad of other factors resulting from a depressed economy. Even the current encouraging signs in the housing market do little for those struggling now to make overdue payments.

Effect of Hurricane Sandy

These statistics are certainly frightening to every homeowner struggling to make their next mortgage payment, but those with the added burden of recovery from Hurricane Sandy have additional worries. In the aftermath of the storm, many of these families faced not only severe property damage but also significant amounts of missed work. Together, these factors ate away at their already slim savings, making foreclosure a real possibility.

Announcement Brings Temporary Relief

However, the plight of these homeowners has not gone unrecognized by the federal government, and a new announcement may give at least temporary relief. Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary, and Edward J. DeMarco, the Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director, recently announced a ninety-day halt on the initiation of new foreclosures and on the processing of current foreclosures. This moratorium applies to properties located in the regions declared to be federal disaster areas following Hurricane Sandy. Mortgages affected are those held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Authority. In addition, these homeowners may also be able to apply for forgiveness of late charges, modifications to their loans, and forbearance. This halt in foreclosures is in effect until April 30, 2013 and is intended to provide more time for recovery in these hard-hit areas.

Is your home threatened by foreclosure? Do you know what your rights are or if this new announcement even applies to you? Don’t try to struggle through the paperwork alone. The Law Offices of David Witkon are experienced in helping homeowners through the intimidating process of foreclosure appeal. Don’t become one of the statistics. Contact us today for an appointment.

https://rismedia.com/2013-02-03/donovan-and-demarco-announce-extended-foreclosure-relief-for-hurricane-sandy-storm-victims/