The issue of loan assignments in foreclosure is rearing its head. Again. A group of Hennepin County, Minnesota homeowners with subprime mortgages said today that they have filed a class-action lawsuit against MERS, accusing the registry system of "skipping legally-required steps" during the foreclosure process. Those steps? You guessed it: assignments. From the press release:
The central issue is whether MERS routinely initiates foreclosures without listing all loan "assignments" - that is, all changes in ownership that occur with the mortgage in question, since mortgages often go through a chain of "assignees." A basic requirement on Minnesota's books is that mortgage assignments must be recorded with the county if the mortgage is no longer held by the original lender. Additionally, assignments must also be listed in the Notice of Mortgage Foreclosure Sale, published in the newspaper, and delivered to the homeowner prior to the sale.
The lawsuit alleges that MERS "systematically ignores" these requirements and "routinely forecloses upon mortgages that have been assigned without recording those assignments or listing them in the published foreclosure notice," according to a press statement released Friday. It's not clear exactly what sort of remedy the hopeful class is pursuing here, although the press release manages to spend a good amount of time rambling about "a lack of accountability" and demonizing foreclosures on "single mothers and a man who is caring for a family member with terminal cancer." "Foreclosure by advertisement is a privilege, not a right," said Amber Hawkins, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis, one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs. "If a mortgage lender wants to use a quick and easy process to take someone's house, at the very least they should have to follow the steps that Minnesota law requires."