25 Jan “Lost Mortgage” Case Highlighted in Atlanta Newspaper
Today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution ran a page one article in the Metro section entitled “Who Owns My House?” The article highlights the case of a 68 year old seamstress named Zella Mae Green who has filed bankruptcy four times over the past twenty years to stop foreclosures. The problem – her mortgage has been bought and sold so many times that no one can produce the original paperwork.
Ms. Green contends that she has made her mortgage payments but the lasted alleged lenders Citigroup and Wells Fargo contend that she is 9 years delinquent.
At this point, no lender has actual possession of the original promissory note signed by Ms. Green. The homeowner’s attorney contends that the loan servicer’s failure to account for the original note may make the promissory note unenforceable.
The AJC article quotes University of Iowa professor Katherine Porter who reviewed lender filings in bankruptcy cases and discovered that lenders routinely failed to file required documents in bankruptcy cases to prove what consumers owe. Their accounting systems, she notes, make it almost impossible for a homeowner to track the history of payments. “If she can’t get this information through litigation and with a skilled attorney, what happens to people facing foreclosure who sent their check in and can’t get the lender to admit it?
Ms. Green’s attorney, a friend of mine here in Atlanta named Howard Rothbloom, notes that “anything is a possibility” and that he has sued Citibank and Wells Fargo to get some answers.
Bankruptcy lawyers who have even a few cases will recognize many of the issues that Ms. Green has gone through. In almost every Chapter 13 case involving a mortgage that I have ever filed there has been a payment dispute at one point or another. Mortgage company payment records are all but impossible to follow. I am involved in a case right now in which the lender has filed then dismissed a motion for relief because of trouble identifying the mortgage payment history.
Jonathan Ginsberg, Esq.
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