(BREAKING NEWS – OP-ED) — The author of this post brings you this not-so-humble opinion without the slightest intent of giving you legal advice. The system has it all set up to favor the attorneys for that purpose, so that’s where you get legal advice. On this blog, you get news, opinions and suggestive commentary and education, which is perfectly legal because freedom of speech … as I believe we still have freedom of speech … exists in a forum of expression as we know it.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT EXTENDS MORATORIUMS DUE TO COVID
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has extended moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions until at least August 31, 2020. If you have a mortgage that is backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, rest assured that single-family homeowners got a reprieve, at least temporarily. Roughly 2-million homeowners are affected by this extended moratorium. You can go do a loan look-up on the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac websites to see whether this applies to you. I would think by now, you’d know that, especially because you read this blog. You can anticipate that the moratoriums on the federal level will probably continue to be extended as long as we’re in the middle of a perceived pandemic.
STATE GOVERNMENT MORATORIUMS … NOW THAT’S ANOTHER STORY ALTOGETHER
Virginia’s moratoriums ended in May and eviction hearings have resumed. Some 3,000 people are facing being kicked to the curb, mostly for nonpayment of rent. Landlords are reportedly filing lawsuits to overturn the states’ moratoriums, all the while sending tenants threatening letters and text messages demanding rent in lieu of locking the tenants out of their homes. The Low-Income Housing Coalition published a partial list below:
In the following states, the courts have suspended evictions: California (indefinite on evictions), Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
In the following states, the governors have suspended evictions and foreclosures: Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Washington State.
In the following states, the legislatures enacted (or are enacting) laws to suspend evictions and foreclosures: Massachusetts and New Jersey (for an indefinite period of time in New Jersey, due to the COVID pandemic).
You should probably check with your individual state’s websites (I’m not going to do all the work for you) to see what moratoriums are in effect and for what purpose and for how long, especially if you’re delinquent in paying either your mortgage or your rent.
In non-judicial states, the banks don’t need the court’s permission to conduct a non-judicial foreclosure; however, where the governors have imposed moratoriums, the banks simply cannot act outside of that mandate.
All of this is because of COVID-19, stay at home orders, lockdowns and loss of income.
Many foreclosure courts have suspended or limited (to Zoom conferences) foreclosure and eviction proceedings because of COVID. Check with your local court to see whether it’s open for business or is conducting emergency petitions as needed.
There are certain states that are definitely NOT homeowner/borrower friendly, where it will be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to get a case fairly decided upon in the lower court systems without having to resort to the appeals process … my picks are (1) Maryland; (2) Minnesota; (3) Michigan; (4) California; and (5) Washington State. These are the worst in my opinion, given current case law. The states that actually have judges who can get past their biases and get to the truth of the matter, or in the alternative, make getting an appellate reversal possible include (my picks): (1) New Mexico; (2) Maine; (3) Tennessee; (4) Florida; and (5) New York (especially in the boroughs). Most of my picks are based on how the courts treat the MERS System® and securitization. Moreso, it’s about how one approaches the courts and how much attention is paid to their Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules of Evidence. When the judicial prejudices creep in … and you’re not smart enough to object to these prejudices as they apply to civil procedure or evidence, you end up getting screwed with no chance of appeal (all the legal doors are closed) … at least, that’s what the courts want you to think.
In my book, the States that have the MOST corrupt judges are (my picks): (1) Alabama; (2) Georgia; (3) New Jersey; (4) Colorado; and (5) California. I ranked Alabama first because of its staunch prejudices. Georgia was ranked second because of its history (debtors’ prisons). New Jersey was ranked third because of several cases I’ve been involved with that should have gone in favor of the homeowner but even in light of the Kemp decision, judges there are all pro-bank … and there’s no getting around that stigma. In Colorado, judges there can get you killed without any remorse from them or political blowback on them. I base that on the several cases, including the death of Martin Wirth, which seemingly never got justice because the homeowners got boo-f00ed in the Rule 120 courts.
Add COVID-19 to the mix … given the fact that 99% of all government-paid employees … and that includes judges … believe everything their government tells them, even if it has no scientific basis in fact.
NOW THAT WE’VE COVERED COVID AND THE COURTS … LET’S TALK ABOUT CIVIL UNREST
The Mayor of Atlanta (who is of African-American descent … shit … you mean if I’m not politically correct, I’m screwed?) has urged her city’s residents to stop the violence. 21 people were shot overnight, including an 8-year-old girl who was a passenger in a car. None of the shootings involved police officers, but rather what appears to be black-on-black crime. How can you even think the BLM movement can sustain its credibility when shit like this is perpetuated? I see her point. BLM made their point. Everything else past that is nothing more than hate crimes against society. If the anarchists want Civil War (even on a limited basis), those cities run by Democrat mayors are breeding grounds for it because police response has been limited and no one is calling for federal help to stop the violent behavior. Those in the major cities are probably stocking up on whatever guns and ammunition they can get their hands on and frankly, I don’t blame them. They see what I see as a potential for spread of the violent behaviors to the suburbs and even the urban and rural areas as anarchists unite to spread their agenda, which rests on NO law and order.
The real problem with BLM is they’ve allowed (collectively) the anarchist movement to infiltrate their ranks and change their “direction”, which had … and is still having … a diametrically opposed negative effect. It’s driving prejudices deeper underground and making people more “aware”. It’s enough to be scared of getting COVID, which most have little understanding of it. But then compounding that with unrest extrapolates that fear mongering into perceived action (uptick in gun and ammo sales).
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If the sheriffs can’t grow a pair, the citizens will do it for them by taking matters into their own hands, vigilantism or not.
I was shocked to learn (earlier last month) that the Austin Police Department Headquarters (at I-35 and 8th Street, Downtown Austin), which I visited a time or two as a news reporter-news anchor for KLBJ (the station Pres. Lyndon Johnson used to own), was destroyed by rioters. Knowing what I know about APD, I’m still in shock and surprised that this was allowed to happen. It’s no wonder Governor Greg Abbott (who rules the Executive Branch from a wheelchair) is under fire for not doing enough in some areas while doing too much in other areas. He didn’t do more to stop the violence in his own state capitol. But then again, Austin’s “Keep Austin Weird” slogan speaks volumes when it comes to indifference.
Civil unrest can be predicated on civil disobedience. Civil disobedience basically means ignoring government mandates in protest. The right to assemble is protected by the U.S. Constitution. The right to riot, burn down buildings and shoot people is not protected. Folks are still blaming President Trump for not doing enough; however, the 10th Amendment clearly reserves those powers not vested with the federal government to be reserved solely for the states themselves. If you’re going to blame anyone, look at your own town Mayor and commission first, then your state reps, then your Governor. This is where the blame lies on the state level … first. Not with the President. Mr. Trump is doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing … running the executive branch of the United States Government as promulgated under Article 1 of the U. S. Constitution. You may not like the way he does things. He’s a CEO remember? He’s not a politician. But like politicians, he plays favorites. What politician hasn’t, especially if there’s under-the-table sex involved?
Civil unrest is further precipitated because Americans (a majority of them, you decide if you’re one of them) are quick to place blame on everyone but themselves. Given what is going on in Atlanta and the fact that 1,000 National Guard troops have been called out there, the BLM movement’s credibility is tanking. Not only that, the systemic violence has further driven prejudice deeper into the souls of most of the citizenry. The way I’m starting to see things (and you can disagree if you like), anyone who talks about their rights being infringed upon or oppressed because of their race … is espousing racism. Anyone who feels as if they’re entitled to free shit because of their race (they got a bad break) espouses racism. Anyone who thinks they’re more “privileged” than their fellow man because of skin color espouses racism. Civil unrest and the propensity for it is exacerbated by racist behavior. Racist behavior begats violence. Racist behaviors are learned. They do not occur in the natural state of things. They are taught. White supremacists teach their kids to love the “white race” and that they are the only race that matters. Kind of like Hitler. That’s where the anti-fascist movement came in because every action brings an equal and opposite reaction. With Congress polarizing America with its inept behaviors, it’s no wonder the “trickle down effect” has brought with it a different, diametrically opposed outcome.
We all have to sit back and examine where we learned these behaviors and why we were taught these behaviors. I remember my own father taking offense to an activist who was invited into his church in order to survey the congregation to see how many “white folk” would sit down to dinner with a black person. THIS is how these types of behaviors are engrained into society (and this was back in the late 60’s). My dad worked with black people in his office (corporate America) and he respected them for what they stood for and knew they had the same opportunities as everyone else to succeed.
But NO! We’d rather have a pity party and rant about how we were (and are) being oppressed. Yet, admittedly, certain public figures of African-American descent have outspokenly told their kids how to react when stopped by the police. Now why on earth would they do that? What precipitated the thought process that cops weren’t human? Could it be that society gave a gun and a badge to citizens who didn’t (and shouldn’t) deserve one? One of the most dangerous precepts of a civilized society is to let someone with severely-repressed racial attitudes play God in a squad car with someone else’s life. We know that behaviors are learned. Now we have to restructure what we’ve created, take out all the “bad apples” and move forward.
AS TO THE PANIC AND FEAR …
These two processes drive stupidity. Panic is what happens when you are not comfortable with the situation you’re in and if something went wrong, you couldn’t cope. Fear is what it is … False Evidence Appearing Real. Panic is the precursor to fear because the person displaying the mindset overcome with panic will allow fear to creep in based on the perception of what he sees and hears around him. Assumptions can get you killed … as much as they can make you a perpetrator. False beliefs not corrected will jeopardize a civilized society because people aren’t thinking rationally because they’re being “programmed” by what they see and hear on TV (mostly). This is why cop shows and violence-filled sitcoms are more popular because people are being “conditioned” and “desensitized” to what is really happening in the real world. This is how governments take advantage of their citizens.
FORECLOSURES … SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST …
While foreclosures are no laughing matter, being in denial that they could occur in one’s life is fundamentally bad for society, especially in communities where they are randomly prevalent. Knowing your financial position in life should be your first priority because it is how you are able to develop a Plan B. As much encouragement as I can muster here, nothing can compensate the loss of a home, especially if it has a lot of equity in it. This offers you (if you’re in that position) a unique opportunity to get yourself upright and mortgage free!
A reader of my blog called me one day to ask about fighting a foreclosure on her rental property. I asked her to weigh the possibilities based on the facts. She had $150,000 in equity in the home and it was rented. It’s just that with COVID, her renters weren’t making the payments, so the renters decided to vacate at the end of the month. I asked her to evaluate the stress that would be added to the equation if she were to compare the monthly rent versus the amount spent in litigation trying to save that monthly rent. We both came to the conclusion that while the market was short of inventory, NOW would be the time to sell the property, pay off the note (and stop arguing whether the lender screwed you or not), save the stress, take the equity … and find a place in the country where you can park that equity and live within your means or at best, mortgage free.
People get frustrated examining situations like this because there are options to litigation but they won’t entertain them, even if it means simply staying put in your home (that’s going to be foreclosed on) while trying to make a Plan B work. Nope. That’s their home and they’re staying put until the sheriff kicks them to the curb. That’s the opposite of why I started this blog in the first place. If you had 10 rental properties that were all going to be foreclosed on, but they could bring you a net equity of $25,000 each … sell them, take the $250,000 out of the deal and restructure your life with it. The Chapter 11 case in Tampa that I wrote about on this blog in earlier posts, where 52 properties were put into the BK and a fourth of them had their liens disallowed by the court and they did cram downs on the rest of them and got an angel to buy the paper on the remaining properties and refinance them all at a lower rate cost $160,000 to complete. You can only do this if you have the reserves. It’s a great Plan B and the judge loved it! It was the chief judge too!
But seriously, how many people have 52 houses to put into a Chapter 11? You have to scale down those factors and figure your litigation costs, whether you’re going to answer pleadings pro se … plan on how much time you need to “re-group” … and execute on your plans. The bank doesn’t have to win the way they think they should. You can win by flushing your equity out ahead of time, scaling down … and restructuring your life.
With COVID-19 and the courts being stymied, you do have time to act. However, this “pandemic” isn’t going to last forever and at some point, you will have to face the music. How you deal with it is what makes you a winner or a loser.
As a parting thought … DON’T TAKE A VACCINE THAT YOU DON”T KNOW WHAT’S IN IT! They’re looking for “test subjects” now and I’m not sure they’re paying. Not a good plan if you intend on enjoying any plausible future, eh?