Date: Jan 24, 2014
Daniel C. Rubenstein and Douglas J. Behr successfully completed a nearly two year representation of a pro bono client who had been facing a pending foreclosure of her home.
Mr. Rubenstein first met the client and her son at the D.C. Bar Advice and Referral Clinic in February 2011. The client and her son came to the clinic seeking legal assistance after their mortgage company, a major national Bank, refused to accept mortgage payments on the client’s home, following the death of her husband. Mr. Rubenstein and Mr. Behr discovered that the mortgage documents, originally drafted by a settlement company that is no longer in business (the owner is now serving time in federal prison for mortgage fraud), were prepared incorrectly. Specifically, the Deed of Trust omitted the client as a party, resulting in complications when her husband passed away; and shortly after the loan was sold to the Bank.
After the Bank refused to accept the client’s checks because “she was not on the mortgage”, the Bank sued to have the Deed of Trust reformed. When the client called the Bank’s lawyer, a paralegal convinced her to sign a Consent Motion, adding her as a party to the mortgage. The client purportedly signed the Consent Motion under the premise that doing so would permit her to resume making regular payments; however, the Bank instead moved to commence foreclosure proceedings for earlier nonpayment.
Mr. Rubenstein first attempted to negotiate directly with the Bank and the Title Insurance Company to resolve the issue; however, once the Bank made clear they were unwilling or unable to do so, Mr. Rubenstein and Mr. Behr brought an action in D.C. Superior Court to invalidate the Consent Motion. During the pendency of the litigation, however, Mr. Rubenstein utilized the Federal Government’s Home Affordable Modification Program to reform the terms of the mortgage (the HAMP Program was developed in response to the foreclosure crisis of 2008).
The HAMP modification was completed in late 2013, and the documents were recorded with the D.C. Government in late January 2014. The client is therefore no longer under threat of foreclosure, and is able to resume payment of her mortgage without the threat of foreclosure.