Friday, February 6, 2009

Facing foreclosure? Don't leave. Squat

Marcy Kaptur of Ohio is the longest-serving Democratic congresswoman in U.S. history. Her district, stretching along the shore of Lake Erie from west of Cleveland to Toledo, faces an epidemic of home foreclosures and 11.5 percent unemployment. That heartland region, the Rust Belt, had its heart torn out by the North American Free Trade Agreement, with shuttered factories and struggling family farms. Kaptur led the fight in Congress against NAFTA. Now, she is recommending a radical foreclosure solution from the floor of the U.S. Congress: "So I say to the American people, you be squatters in your own homes. Don't you leave."

She criticizes the bailout's failure to protect homeowners facing foreclosure. Her advice to "squat" cleverly exploits a legal technicality within the subprime-mortgage crisis. These mortgages were made, then bundled into securities and sold and resold repeatedly, by the very Wall Street banks that are now benefiting from TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program). The banks foreclosing on families very often can't locate the actual loan note that binds the homeowner to the bad loan. "Produce the note," Kaptur recommends those facing foreclosure demands of the banks.

"[P]ossession is nine-tenths of the law," Rep. Kaptur told me. "Therefore, stay in your property. Get proper legal representation ... [if] Wall Street cannot produce the deed nor the mortgage audit trail ... you should stay in your home. It is your castle. It's more than a piece of property. ... Most people don't even think about getting representation, because they get a piece of paper from the bank, and they go, 'Oh, it's the bank,' and they become fearful, rather than saying: 'This is contract law. The mortgage is a contract. I am one party. There is another party. What are my legal rights under the law as a property owner?' "If you look at the bad paper, if you look at where there's trouble, 95 to 98 percent of the paper really has moved to five institutions: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wachovia, Citigroup and HSBC. They have this country held by the neck."

Kaptur recommends calling the local Legal Aid Society, Bar Association or 888-995-4673 for legal assistance.


More links:
Adverse possession
How Squatting Works

Edit (18 Feb 2009):
Homeowners Take a Stand, Demand Original Paperwork

A cool trick to delay foreclosure

A University of Iowa study last year suggested that companies servicing mortgages are often negligent when it comes to producing the documentation to support foreclosure. In the study of more than 1,700 bankruptcy cases stemming from home foreclosures, the original note was missing more than 40 percent of the time, and other pieces of required documentation also were routinely left out. ...


A contract, like vengeance and swords, cuts both ways...