Monday, July 27, 2020

Real Estate: The Virginia Property Owners' Association Act - Memorandums of Lien

      In a previous blog, I began discussing the Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act. 
   The Act specifically provides for remedies outside of the more common remedy of filing suit for the amount owed and receiving a judgment. A memorandum of lien to a holder of a credit line deed of trust under the Act is given in the same fashion as if the association’s lien were a judgment. Under the Act, the association can file for and perfect a lien against the homeowner that is prior to all other subsequent liens and encumbrances except real estate tax liens, liens and encumbrances recorded prior to the recordation of the declaration, and sums unpaid on and owing under any mortgage or deed of trust recorded prior to perfection of this lien. 
     To perfect the memorandum of lien, the association must file with the clerk of the circuit court in the county or city in which the development is situated a memorandum verified by the oath of the principal officer of the association or another officer provided for in the declaration. The memorandum must be filed within 12 months from the first assessment became due and payable. Additionally, prior to filing a memorandum of lien, a written notice must be sent to the property owner by certified mail, at the owner’s last known address, informing the owner that the lien will be filed in the circuit court clerk’s office at least 10 days before the actual filing date of the lien. The memorandum must name the development, describe the lot, name the person(s) constituting the owners of the lot, list the amount of unpaid assessments currently due or past due relative to such lot together with the date when each fell due, list the date of issuance of the memorandum, name the association with a name and address of the contact for the person to contact to arrange for payment or release of the lien, and state that the association is obtaining a lien in accordance with the provisions of the Virginia Property Owners’ Association act as set forth in Chapter 26 (section 55-508 et seq.) of Title 55. 
     The Act provides that a judgment or decree in this action must include, without limitation, reimbursement for costs and reasonable attorney’s fees for the prevailing party. Also, if the association prevails, it may also recover interest at the legal rate for the sums secured by the lien from the time each sum became due and payable. If the owner then satisfies the debt, the lien must be released, and failure to release the lien results in a penalty.
     Once a lien has been perfected, the association must enforce the lien within 36 months from the time when the memorandum of lien was recorded. This time period cannot be extended. 
     In a future blog, I will discuss foreclosure on a lien.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Bankruptcy: Dischargeability of Debts - Reliance on Financial Statement

     In the case of Paterno Imports Ltd. v. McBee, Judge Tice of the United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Virginia, sitting in Richmond, held that a plaintiff/creditor, a wine import company who had obtained a judgment against the debtor and his business, failed to prove that it required or relied on the alleged material misrepresentations in a financial statement provided to the debtor company. Accordingly, the judgment the import company ultimately obtained against the debtor and his business was not exempt from discharge. 
     The Court ruled that the case hinged upon the events surrounding a meeting between the debtor, the debtor's counsel, the plaintiff and the bank official. Each party presented evidence in diametric opposition to the other party's claims. The oral testimony presented by the parties at trial was, in its most important aspect, conflicting and irreconcilable. 
     The Court pointed out that in a dischargeability case, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. The Court found that the plaintiff failed in its burden. Despite the fact that the plaintiff's counsel prepared extensive documentation which the debtor was required to sign both personally and for his company, the debtor's guaranty did not mention a financial statement, and no other writing presented at trial suggested that the guaranty was conditioned upon the plaintiff's approval or acceptance of the debtor's financial statement. 
     In summary, the Court found that the plaintiff failed to establish (1) that the plaintiff and the debtor entered into an agreement under which the plaintiff would forbear from pursuing further collection efforts against the debtor's business and give it time to resolve its financial difficulties, in exchange for the debtor's personal guaranty of the company's debt to the plaintiff; (2) that any transaction between the plaintiff and the debtor was conditioned upon the plaintiff's acceptance or approval of the debtor's personal financial statement; or (3) that at the meeting of the parties the debtor produced a personal financial statement or that there was any discussion of such a statement. The Court stated that these findings required the Court to conclude that the plaintiff did not rely upon the debtor's personal financial statement or any other statement. Therefore, the debt was discharged.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Collections: The IRS Can Be Helpful in Commercial Collections

     Can you imagine using the IRS to help in collections? I can! I have an interesting technique that I have recommended for years – I first ran an article on this in the May, 1992 (the 4th Edition) of my newsletter Creditor’s News! Since recently others have also begun recommending this technique I thought that I would review it again. 
    After a sufficient amount of time has passed to consider a commercial credit account "uncollectible," the creditor should consider writing off the debt as a potentially tax-deductible bad debt. The creditor's loss may then become the debtor's gain and, as such, may be reported to the IRS on Form 1099 as income to that debtor. 
     Before actually writing off the debt, attempts should be made to contact the debtor and advise him of the intended action. If you do not have the debtor's social security number, try including a W-9 form with your letter. This could evoke some favorable response. 
     I have a form letter that I recently revised to accomplish all of this. The letter (written from the perspective of the creditor itself) advises the debtor that his account is seriously past due despite repeated attempts to make arrangements for payment. The debtor is further advised that unless the debt is paid in full within fifteen (15) days from the date of the letter, the creditor will, at its option, report the loss to the IRS on their form 1099c. This reporting will result in taxable income to the debtor (reference IRS Regulation S1.61-12). This reporting will result in an IRS audit risk to the debtor, as the IRS routinely runs computer matches of the 1099’s filed against tax returns actually filed to insure that all income is reported; there are severe penalties if not. The letter further states that the creditor is demanding the debtor’s tax identification information; the debtor is asked to do so within fifteen (15) days. The debtor must provide this information to the creditor under penalty of federal law. I recommend that you send with the letter a copy of the IRS form W-9 evidencing the unpaid debt, and advise the debtor that if you do not receive the W-9, the creditor will, at its option, file an IRS form 1099c incomplete. This will further increase the debtor’s chances of an audit. 
     Many debtors will wish to resolve the debt as a result of these actions. After all, who wants the IRS checking them out? 
     If you have any questions of wish to discuss this, please call me at 545-6250. Eddie.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Foreclosure: Default

     Question: When is a loan in default? Answer: Under one or more of several circumstances. The most common way that a borrower is in default is monetary – e.g., the borrower fails to make a required payment. However, default can be for a non-monetary reason as well, such as: 
     1. Failure to pay taxes. 
     2. Failure to pay insurance. 
     3. Failure to remove or bond over mechanic’s liens. 
     4. Failure to perform requirements unique to the loan. 
     If you have questions about default, please call Eddie at 545-6251.