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How to Win Eviction/UD Actions

by Neil Garfield | October 11, 2018

Charles Marshall will discuss today two seminal unlawful detainer (UD) cases, in which respectively in each case the lower Court there found per usual for the institutional UD Plaintiff against the ‘former’ homeowner who was foreclosed on by an institutional trust, aka ‘lender-in-succession’. Yet on appeal of the UD judgment, in both these separate cases, the appellate courts reversed the judgment and remanded the cases.

First up for discussion today is Bank of New York Mellon (BNYM) v. Preciado, the appeal decided in August 2013. The second case is US Financial, L.P. v. McLitus, decided on appeal in August of 2016, which appeal decision was published in November 2016.

Both appellate courts found that neither UD Plaintiff had perfected title, as required by CCC 2924. Will discuss the reasons for this on today’s show.

The courts are meandering back to application of basic law, now that their fears of causing global collapse seem behind them. In Hawai’i the Supreme Court decided that subjective criteria used to dismiss homeowner claims were inapplicable and added that a wrongful foreclosure action could be filed BEFORE the foreclosure was finalized.

In Unlawful Detainer (UD) actions brought in nonjudicial foreclosure states (the majority) there has always been tension between the lawsuit that must be filed by the party claiming possession and the burden of proof. Judges seem to perceive it in the past as just another action for TRO where the homeowner must essentially assert defenses to pleadings that are not filed by the foreclosing party and then prove assertions without having access to the records of the opposing party.

Make no mistake about it. The UD proceeding is the first time anyone makes allegations about the change of title through the foreclosure process and therefore is the first time the homeowner is entitled to frame a narrative defense to real allegations ultimately relating to “perfecting title.”

But the key is the willingness to fight despite apparently long odds against the homeowner. It’s not as bad as it looks, but it is still an uphill battle. 99% of all UD actions are resolved by the homeowner defaulting on either answering the complaint or failing to prosecute the defenses. Of the cases that are hotly contested, my perception is that somewhere between 25%-35% of homeowners actually win. That figure could be low because of the lack of definition of what constitutes a hotly contested case.

Note that the cases scheduled to be outlined by Charles are appellate cases in which the homeowner lost at the trial level. That means a commitment to persist in the fight is the primary factor in winning homeowner cases, one by one.

 

 

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