Conyers and Kilpatrick Demand Lenders Extend Housing Foreclosure Moratorium to Michigan; No More Foreclosures Until Fraudulent Paperwork is Resolved
Washington, DC- Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-14) and Congresswoman Carolyn C. Kilpatrick (MI-13) called on lenders to extend their foreclosure moratorium to Michigan and other states and to cease administering foreclosures until the problem of fraudulent paperwork is resolved.
The revelation that large mortgage lenders may have been evicting families from their homes based on flawed and erroneous documentation is no small matter. These lenders may have presented false affidavits – that is, sworn legal testimony – in thousands of cases fraudulently stating that a homeowner was in default or that the lender had the legal right to foreclose on the property, without the proper verification of the facts asserted in those affidavits. Moreover, the admission by these lenders of inaccurate documentation raises broader questions about whether they are proceeding with foreclosures in non-judicial foreclosure states based on faulty documentation or information. It is crucial that these lenders are held accountable.
Michigan is among the hardest-hit foreclosure states in the Nation. In August 2010, the state’s foreclosure rate increased 128% over August 2009 and it remains among the top five states in the Nation in foreclosure totals. Michigan’s foreclosure rate rose 29% in the first half of 2010 over the first half of 2009. Metropolitan Detroit showed an increase of 35% during that same time period, rising to the highest level since 2007. In July 2010 alone, 1 in 241 housing units in Michigan received a foreclosure filing. In Wayne County, the number was 1 in every 158.
In response to numerous recent reports of false foreclosure affidavits and other apparently fraudulent activities by home mortgage lenders, Reps. Conyers and Kilpatrick, today, sought the following actions:
· Lenders should extend moratoriums on home foreclosures to all states, including Michigan, rather than just those states with judicially supervised foreclosures.
· Lenders that have initiated moratoriums should insure that they actually prevent foreclosures rather than just evictions subsequent to foreclosures.
· The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, thereby controlling a major portion of mortgages subject to foreclosure in the U.S., should review its procedures for proper compliance and also consider initiating a foreclosure moratorium
At the same time, Conyers announced plans to investigate mortgage lenders to learn more about their foreclosure practices, including paperwork violations and false affidavits, and ascertain what can be done to protect homeowners from possible abuses. As part of this effort, Conyers is asking the Federal Housing Finance Agency – the federal agency charged with overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – to ensure that they abide by the law, to consider initiating a moratorium, and to conduct an audit of their actions. In addition, Conyers will be calling upon the DOJ’s Executive Office for U.S. Trustees to investigate the extent to which false affidavits have been filed in bankruptcy cases by lenders seeking to foreclose on debtor’s homes.
Thus far, only three lenders – Ally Financial (parent of GMAC Mortgage), Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase – have ceased post-foreclosure enforcement actions in 23 states that have court- controlled foreclosure proceedings: Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Even those lenders appear to have only ceased evictions, while they continue to engage in foreclosures, which take title from homeowners.
At this point Michigan and 26 other states are not on the moratorium list for these lenders, purportedly because they have a non-judicial foreclosure process. However, without judicial oversight, the possibility of abuse can be even greater in these states. As a result, elected state officials in non-judicial foreclosure states such as California, Colorado, Texas, Massachusetts, and Maryland have recently asked lenders to suspend their foreclosures.
Widespread concern about documentation abuses in the mortgage industry is not limited to state officials. Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the California congressional delegation called on the Justice Department, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve to investigate large mortgage lenders’ handling of delinquent mortgages, mortgage modifications, and foreclosures. Additionally, Senators Robert Menendez (NJ) and Al Franken (MN) called on the Government Accountability Office to investigate the role of federal government entities charged with overseeing the mortgage lending industry to determine how they allowed lenders’ misconduct to occur without detection for so long. Also, Members of Congress from Maryland and Arizona – two non-judicial foreclosure states – called on large lenders to halt foreclosures in their states.
“It makes little sense to limit the moratoriums to judicial foreclosure states when many of the same errors and paperwork flaws likely plague non-foreclosure states,” said Conyers. “When the very same lenders that ignored the rules which helped get us into the real estate bubble are placed in charge of the foreclosures that are exacerbating the problem, locking millions of Americans in a financial trap they cannot escape from, we have a situation that is spiraling out of control and cries out for intervention.”
“Given the depth of the financial calamity in Michigan and other states, the huge number of foreclosures, and the chain reaction of problems involving foreclosures that has impacted communities and individuals, I would urge home mortgage lenders to cease their foreclosure activities,” said Conyers. “Rather than spending their time running mass production foreclosure mills, the lenders should be working with individuals to keep families in their homes and restructure their loans.”
“Home foreclosures affect individual families and devastate entire communities,” said Congresswoman Kilpatrick. “For home foreclosures to proceed under false pretenses is patently unwarranted and unfair. I am proud to join one of the founders of the CBC and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in this clarion call for justice, fairness, and equality to Michiganders and all Americans.”