Monday, April 29, 2019

Foreclosure: Deed in lieu of Foreclosure

     In certain cases it may be more practical for the lender to seek or accept from the borrower a deed in lieu of foreclosure rather than incur the expense of foreclosure – this is at the lender’s discretion. If the lender agrees, in return for voluntarily surrendering the property, the borrower will seek either partial or complete satisfaction of the debt. 
     Considerations. Before accepting the deed in lieu of foreclosure, the lender must consider many matters: 
     · Value of the property vs. the amount of the debt. 
     · Other debts on the property. A deed in lieu of foreclosure does not extinguish prior or junior liens or encumbrances. Thus the lender, in accepting the deed, accepts the property with the liens. It is possible for the lender to structure the deed in lieu of foreclosure so that it does not release the deed of trust so as to preserve a future foreclosure to extinguish subordinate liens. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Real Estate: Making Owners and General Contractors Personally Liable to Subcontractor, Laborer or Materialman

     Virginia Code §43-11 provides a way for owners or general contractors to be made personally liable to subcontractor, laborer or materialman if notice is appropriately given, and if the payer makes payment to the owing party without paying the notifying creditor. Specifically, §43-11 (2) states that: 
     “…if such subcontractor, or person furnishing labor or material shall at any time after the work is done or material furnished by him and before the expiration of thirty days from the time such building or structure is completed or the work thereon otherwise terminated furnish the owner thereof or his agent and also the general contractor, or the general contractor alone in case he is the only one notified, with a second notice stating a correct account, verified by affidavit, of his actual claim against the general contractor or subcontractor, for work done or materials furnished and of the amount due, then the owner, or the general contractor, if he alone was notified, shall be personally liable to the claimant for the actual amount due to the subcontractor or persons furnishing labor or material by the general contractor or subcontractor, provided the same does not exceed the sum in which the owner is indebted to the general contractor at the time the second notice is given or may thereafter become indebted by virtue of his contract with the general contractor, or in case the general contractor alone is notified the sum in which he is indebted to the subcontractor at the time the second notice is given or may thereafter become indebted by virtue of his contract with the general contractor. But the amount which a person supplying labor or material to a subcontractor can claim shall not exceed the amount for which such subcontractor could file his claim.” 
     The notices referred to in this code section are commonly referred to in the industry as “42-11 letters”. We have experienced attorneys and staff who can examine title, file mechanic’s liens, and litigate to enforce the same. If you have a need, please call us. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bankruptcy: Motion to Annul Automatic Stay upon Debtor's Third Petition

     In the case of Blue Ridge Bank v. Boswell the United States Bankruptcy Court at Roanoke, Virginia, denied the creditor bank's motion to annul the automatic stay. 
     In Boswell the debtor had twice previously, just prior to the bank's scheduled foreclosure sales, filed a bankruptcy petition on the eve of foreclosure. With each of the two bankruptcy filings, the debtor failed to provide schedules, a statement of financial affairs or a plan. When the Bankruptcy Court dismissed the debtor's second petition, the Court ordered the debtor not to file another petition for 180 days from the entry of the original order of dismissal. The debtor complied with this order. 
     The bank scheduled a third foreclosure sale, and at the same time, the debtor presented a letter from her attorney indicating that a third bankruptcy petition had been filed. The bank proceeded with the sale, announcing that the sale would be subject to bankruptcy court confirmation. After the sale, the bank moved to annul the automatic stay, arguing that the Court had discretion to validate actions taken in violation of the stay. 
     The Bankruptcy Court found as fact that the foreclosure trustee was advised by the bank and its counsel to proceed with the foreclosure sale of the debtor's residence, and that each was fully aware of the debtor's Chapter 13 petition. At the same time, the foreclosure trustee chose not to consult with the debtor, who was in attendance at the sale, or the debtor's attorney, whose identity was known to the trustee. In fact, the foreclosure trustee received only the bank's point of view and then obtained indemnification from the bank for any personal liability resulting from the sale. The Bankruptcy Court noted that under Virginia law, a trustee under a deed of trust is a fiduciary for both the debtor and the creditor and must treat them with perfect fairness and impartiality. 
     The Bankruptcy Court ruled that its dismissal of the debtor's second petition prohibited the debtor from filing any petition for a period of 180 days from entry of the original order of dismissal. The debtor filed her Chapter 13 petition nine days after the prohibitory period had expired. The debtor acted in accordance with the Court's directive and with her rights under the Bankruptcy Court. Further, the bankruptcy trustee reported that the debtor was current in her plan payments and that he was prepared to recommend confirmation. The Bankruptcy Court noted that such evidence did not support a finding that the debtor was abusing the bankruptcy process. 
     Accordingly, the Bankruptcy Court declined to annul the automatic stay of Bankruptcy Code §362, and the bank's motion to annul the stay was denied. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Collections: Bank Deposits -- for Deposit Only

     The United States District Court at Alexandria reviewed a liability question regarding a bank's treatment of a check marked "for deposit only". In the case of Qatar v. First Am. Bank of Va., the Court ruled that a depositary bank violated a restrictive endorsement stating "for deposit only" when it deposited a check into an account other than the account belonging to the named payee of the check. In Qatar, a foreign embassy employee defrauded the embassy over a six-year period by various methods, including depositing checks written to other parties into his own personal accounts with defendant banks. After the embassy discovered this fraudulent scheme, it sued the depositary bank for conversion. The bank succeeded on summary judgment in establishing that it was not liable as a matter of law with respect to two categories of checks in dispute, and it prevailed on a factual issue at trial that relieved it from liability for yet another category of checks. 
     Only one category of checks remained in dispute. These checks all bore the forged endorsement of the payee named on the face of the check, followed by a stamped "for deposit only" restriction. At trial, the depositary bank raised no defenses, but instead challenged for the first time the Court's assumption that the phrase "for deposit only," without further specification, directs a depositary bank to deposit the funds only into the account of the named payee. The Court reasoned that the question then presented was whether the bank complied with the restrictive endorsement "for deposit only" when it deposited the check bearing that restriction into any person's account, or whether that restriction requires the bank to deposit the check's proceeds only into the account of the named payee. The Court held that the unqualified language "for deposit only" following an endorsement on the back of a check required the bank to place the check's proceeds into the payee's account, and the bank violated that restrictive endorsement when it credited the check to another account. In this cases, specifically, the bank violated the restrictive endorsement in depositing into the employees account checks made payable to others and restrictively endorsed "for deposit only", and thus was liable to the plaintiff for the money converted.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Foreclosure: Sale Price and Delays in Sale

     The trustee is under a duty to “use all reasonable diligence to obtain the best price.” 
     If the trustee determines that in order to fulfill his fiduciary duty to realize the highest price for the property, a recess is necessary, he or she should recess the sale. Arguably, the recess is within the scope of the discretion afforded trustees in the conduct of the foreclosure sale. For example, if a bidder who previously advised the trustee of his interest in bidding on the property is delayed, the trustee, in his discretion, may recess the sale to a later hour on the same day to allow the bidder to attend the sale. If the trustee fails to accommodate the bidder and the property is sold for a price less than the bidder was willing to pay, the trustee may have breached his duty to “use all reasonable diligence to obtain the best price.” A decision by the trustee to recess the sale, however, should not impair the sale by making it impossible or impracticable for the bidders to appear and bid at the recessed sale.
     The postponement of a foreclosure sale to a different day is not a recess and is governed by statute. Virginia Code §55-59.1(D) provides that the trustee, in his discretion, may postpone the sale to a different day, and no new or additional “notice” must be given. Presumably, the “notice” referred to in this section is notice of the postponement. The trustee needs only to announce at the sale that it has been postponed. §55-59.2(D) provides that if the sale is postponed, the trustee must advertise the “new” sale in the same manner as the original advertisement. Read in conjunction, these sections require the trustee who postpones the foreclosure to re-advertise the sale in the same manner as the original sale was advertised. Although the secured obligation will not need to be accelerated again, all other aspects of the foreclosure must be completed. Effectively, a postponed sale is a new sale in which the trustee must complete all acts that he or she completed in the first sale.