<strong>Defending Wrongful Foreclosure Actions in Nevada </strong>
<em>Foreclosures in Nevada are on the rise, and our law office is contacted everyday by people from all walks of life inquiring about how to stop foreclosure and other foreclosure related questions. It is a complex area of laws, and we do not suggest to go alone or hire an unlicensed attorney or an out of state attorney or their production firm. A Nevada licensed attorney would be an ideal agency to handle such complex legal cases.</em>
Nevada, as we know is a non-judicial foreclosure state. It simply means that your lender does not have to go to court to get a foreclosure status against you. A simple non judicial procedure is enough to foreclose on your property.
In Nevada, a notice of intent to foreclose is followed by a notice of default which is followed by a notice of trustee’s sale. The last step, the actual non-judicial foreclosure sale, usually occurs within approximately 90 days (and in some cases longer from the filing of the notice of default. For the vast majority of loans, the Nevada non-judicial foreclosure process is an effective and relatively inexpensive method for a servicer to obtain its security. In most non-judicial foreclosures, the only court time and court costs involved are those for the usually uncontested municipal court unlawful detainer which is initiated by the servicer in order to obtain possession from former borrowers who refuse to vacate their former homes.
For a small but seemingly growing number of loans, the non-judicial foreclosure process has has almost become judicial. Increasingly, this war has been taken to courts and even in Nevada, a large number of these cases had been filed in court. This war of attrition ranges from bankruptcy, to District Courts Nevada, and to US District Court. It is not a war to stop eviction in municipal courts of Nevada. They are only mean to stop illegal detainer.
Before we go any farther, we like to outline once more the steps taken by your lender in foreclosing your property in Nevada.
Foreclosure Process in General in Nevada:
Most of the loans are premised upon continuous payments to the lenders. If these payments are not timely paid, or not continuously paid, the borrowers can start the foreclosure process. The lender reviews the loan documents and determines about the occurrence of a default. Failure to make loan payments triggers this default process. Also, it is contingent upon events which have not been corrected by payments or failure of a workout package.
A trustee under a deed of trust may exercise its statutory power of sale without the judicial intervention. In Nevada, the foreclosure is mostly a statutory foreclosure. (NRS 107.080(1)). Judicial foreclosures are also permitted under Nevada law (NRS 40.430-40.450) but judicial foreclosures are not the preferred choice in Nevada for most of the lenders because of the looming danger of the right of redemption. Upon default, the initial step is for either the beneficiary or the trustee to execute a notice of breach and election to sell, which is usually accompanied by an unrecorded Declaration of Default. (NRS 107.080(2)(b)). The beneficiary executes the notice, but the trustee records it. The notice of breach and election to see must be recorded in the county in which the property encumbered by the trust deed is situated. This notice must also be mailed (notice of breach and election to sell) by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested with postage prepaid, to the address of the trustor and to the person who holds the title of record, if known, otherwise to the address of the property. (NRS 1076.080(3)
<strong>Notice of Default and Election to Sell?</strong>
1. Must describe the property
2. Must describe the deficiency in performance of payment.
3. May contain a notice of intent to accelerate the entire unpaid balance if the terms of the obligations so permit (NRS 107.080(3).
4. Within 10 days of recording and mailing the notice of default to the trustor, copies of the notice must also be sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to each person who has either (1) filed a request for a copy of the notice; or (2) holds a record interest in the property subordinate to the deed of trust being foreclosed. Additionally, 20 or more days before the sale, the trustee must mail a copy of the notice of the time and place of the sale to the same parties by register3ed or certified mail, return receipt requested. (NRS 107.090.)
5. Nevada laws make it immaterial whether the notice is actually received by the trustor. The notice is effective nonetheless. (Turner v. Dewco Services, Inc., 87 Nev. 14, 479 P. Wd 462 (1971)
6. NRS 107.080(2)(a) provides that no power of sale may be exercised unless the trustor or his successor in interest, a beneficiary under a subordinate deed of trust or any other person with a subordinate lien or encumbrance of record (referred to below as “trustor or interested person”) has, for a period of 35 days, “failed to make good the deficiency in performance or payment….” The 35-day period commences on the first day following the day upon which the notice and election is recorded and mailed to the grantor and to the record owner of the property in the manner specified above. (NRS 108.080(3). If the trustor other interested persons “make good” the deficiency in payment or performance within the 35-day period, the trustee’s power of sale may not be exercised, and the obligation may not be accelerated. NRS 107.080(2)(a), (3). The 35-day period in the statute exists independently of any notice or cure periods contained the applicable notes or deeds of trust. If the notice of breach contains a permitted election to accelerate and the breach is not cured within the 35-day period, the trustor or other interested persons can thereafter only prevent the sale by tendering the entire unpaid balance of the obligation, as well as any costs, fees and expenses incidents to the preparation or recordation of the notice and incident to the making good of the deficiency in performance or payment (NRS 107.080(3).
<strong>What is the Procedure for Trustee’s Sale?</strong>
When three months have elapsed from the date of the recordation of the notice of breach and election to sell, the trustee may give notice of the time and place of the trustee’s sale, which notice must be given in accordance with the statutory provisions for execution sales of real property – posted notice in three public places for 20 successive days and published once a week for three consecutive weeks. (NRS 107.080(4);231.130(1)©. The trustee’s sale may be held at the office of the trustee anywhere in Nevada, even if it is not in the county where the property being sold is located. (NRS 107.080(4).
If the power of sale is exercised in compliance with the Nevada statute, the purchaser is vested with the title of the trustor, without equity or right of redemption NRS 107.080(5).
What are the Guarantor’s Rights to Notice and Subrogation?
The notice of breach and election to sell must be mailed by certified mail, postage prepaid, to each guarantor or surety of the debt at the address of each if known, or at the address of the trust property. The notice must also be mailed to any other obligor who has filed a request for a copy of the notice under NRS107.090. Failure to provide such notice would release that guarantor, surety or obligor from liability on the obligation. (NRS 107.095(1).
Under NRs 107.095(3) a guaranty, surety or other obligor is not released if the required notice is give at least fifteen (15) days before the later of the expiration of the 35-day period described in NRs 107.080 or any extension of that period by the beneficiary, or if the notice of default is rescinded before the sale id advertised.
Upon full satisfaction by the guarantor, surety or other obligor, other than the trustor, of the indebtedness secured by a mortgage or lien, the paying guarantor or obligor is entitled to enforce every remedy which the beneficiary has against the trustor, and is entitled to an assignment from the beneficiary of all of the rights the beneficiary then has by way of security for the payment or performance of the trustor. NRS 40-475 (1989). Such an obligor is also entitled to subrogation, junior only to the secured lender’s rights, in the case of partial satisfaction of the indebtedness. (NRS 40.485 (1989). These rights may only be waived by the guarantor, surety or other obligor after default. NRs 40.495(1)(1989).
What are the rights under One Action Rule?
In Nevada, a deficiency judgment can be filed under non statutory foreclosure provisions without having filed a judicial foreclosure.
<strong>What is a deed of Trust in Nevada?</strong>
The most common type of security interest in real property in Nevada is a Deed of Trust. A DOT has three parties.
<strong>Lender:</strong> It is the first party who is referred to as “Beneficiary.”
<strong>Borrower:</strong> It is the second party who is referred to as the “Maker”, or “Grantor”, or “Trustor” who conveys legal title to the property to the Trustee.
Trustee: This is the third party who holds legal title to the property.
<strong>Process:</strong> A DOT can be foreclosed in a simple process and cheaper as well. A Trustee sells the property encumbered by the DOT. All the lender needs to do in order to foreclose on a DOT is to determine that an even of default has occurred under the DOT and have the trustee conduct non-judicial foreclosure proceedings. Here, in Nevada, the trustee sale does not entail redemption. The borrower, in Nevada, does not have the statutory rights of redemption unlike the judicial foreclosure where the right of redemption lasts one year. Compare NRs 107.080(5) (no right of redemption in a foreclosure on a DOT ) with NRs 21.210 (one year period of redemption).
<strong>Determination of Default.</strong>
Your default notice also consists of a determination of default. It can be monetary or non monetary. Monetary is when it is linked to borrowers failure to pay, failure to pay property taxes, failure to pay homeowners association assessments and failure to pay special improvements and other assessments against the property. The non monetary events of default are spelled out in the notice of default and Deed of Trust as well as related loan documents. They can be failure to insure property, the failure to maintain debt service coverage ratios and waste.
<strong>Acceleration of Obligation:</strong>
A trustee under a deed of trust may exercise its statutory power of sale (commencement of foreclosure process) without judicial intervention in Nevada. NRs 107.080(1). Judicial foreclosure is also permitted under Nevada laws though seldom exercised. (NRs 40.430-40-450). They carry with them a one year right of redemption which lenders does not like it as they like to close this chapter once for all.
<strong>Steps in Foreclosure in Nevada?</strong>
1. The beneficiary or the trustee to execute a notice of breach and election to sell which is usually accompanied by an unrecorded Declaration of Default. (NRS 107.080(2)(b). The beneficiary executes the notice, but the trustee records it. The notice of breach and election to sell must be recorded in the county in which the property encumbered by the trust deed is situated. The notice of breach and election to sell must also be mailed by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested with postage prepaid, to the address of the trustor and to the person who holds the title of record, if known, otherwise to the address of the property. (NRS 1076.080(3).
2. The notice and election must describe the deficiency in performance or payment, and may contain a notice of intent to accelerate the entire unpaid balance if the terms of the obligation so permit. (NRS 107.080(3).
3. Within ten days of recording and mailing to the trustor the notice of default, copies of the notice must also be sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to each person who had either (1) filed a request for a copy of the notice; or (2) holds a record interest in the property subordinate to the deed of trust being foreclosed. Additionally, 20 or more days before the sale, the trustee must mail a copy of the notice of the time and place of the sale to the same parties by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. (NRS 107.90)
4. Under Nevada law, it is immaterial whether the notice is actually received by the trustor. Turner v. Dewco Services, Inc., 87 Nev 14. 479 P.2d 462 (1971).
5. NRS 107.080(2)(a) provides that no power of sale may be exercised unless the trustor or his successor in interest, a beneficiary under a subordinate deed of trust or any other person with a subordinate lien or encumbrance of record (trustor or interested persons) has, for a period of 35 days, “failed to make good the deficiency in performance or payment….” The 35-day period commences on the first day following the day upon which the notice and election is recorded and mailed to the grantor and to the record owner of the property in the manner specified above. NRS 107.080(3). If the trustor or other interested person “make good” the deficiency in payment or performance within 35-day period, the trustee’s power of sale may not be exercised, and the obligation may not be accelerated. NRs 107.80(2)(a), (3). The 35-day period in the statue exists independently of any notice or cure periods contained in the applicable notes or deeds of trust. If the notice of breach contains a permitted election to accelerate and the breach is not cured within the 35-day period, the trustor or other interested persons can thereafter only prevent the sale by tendering the entire unpaid balance of the obligation, as well as any costs, fees and expenses incident to the preparation or recordation of the notice and incident to the making good of the deficiency in performance or payment. NRS 107.080(3).
6. Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 107 governs Deeds of Trusts. The transfer of real property may be made in trust to secure loans and other obligations. See NRs 107.020. In the event a transfer is made in trust to secure payment, the Trustee is granted a power of sale which may be exercised if an event of default has occurred. See generally NRS 107.080.
<strong>How a Foreclosure Process in Nevada is Commenced?</strong>
1. The lender must first determine that an event of default has taken place.
2. The lender employs the Trustee or a successor.
3. The Trustee will prepare and record in the Office of the County of Records of the County in which the property is located a Notice of Default and Election To Sell. (NRS 107.080).
4. The Notice of Default and Election to Sell must be mailed by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested Election to Sell must be mailed by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested and postage prepaid, to the grantor of the Deed of Trust, the person who holds title of record on the date of the Notice of Default and Election to Sell, each guarantor or surety of the debt, NRS 107.095(1), and any person who recorded a request for a Notice of Default and Election to Sell. (NRS 107.090.
5. On the first day after the Notice of Default and Election to Sell is recorded and sent by mail to all interested parties, the borrower and the other obligors are then given 35 days to make good the deficiency in payment or performance. NRs 107.080(2)(a)(2). This essentially allows the borrower or other obligors to de-accelerate the default under the Deed of Trust and terminate the foreclosure proceedings.
6. In the event the borrower or other party in interest fails to cure the deficiency in payment or performance, the Trustee must wait until the expiration of three months following the recording of the Notice of Default and Election to Sell (55 days after the 35 day reinstatement period expires) before giving notice of the time and the place for the sale of the real property (NRS 107.080). The notice of the time and place for the sale of the real property must be published in accordance with Nevada’s execution statutes.
<strong>Requirements of Publication for the Notice Under Nevada Laws</strong>
Nevada statute requires the following publication of the notice of the date, time and place of the sale:
(1) Personal service or service by registered mail to the last known address of each person entitled to Notice of Default and Election to Sell;
(2) The posting of a similar notice particularly describing the property , for twenty days successively, in three public places of the township or city where the property is situated in or where the property is to be sold; and
(3) Publishing a copy of the Notice three times, once each week for three successive weeks, in a newspaper, if there is one the county. (NRS 21.130(c).
(4) In addition to the notice required by Nevada’s execution statutes, the Trustee is required to, at least twenty days before the date of the sale, deposit in the United States mail and envelope, registered or certified, return receipt requested and with postage prepaid, containing a copy of the Notice of time and place of sale, addressed to each person who has recorded a Request for Notice of Default and Sale. See NRS 107.090(4).
(5) If the Trustee fails to give any person liable to the beneficiary or any other person who has requested a Notice of Default and Sale the required notices, that person may be released of its obligation to the lender. NRs 107.095.
(6) NRs 107.080(4) allows the Trustee to conduct the sale at the Trustee’s office.
(7) At the foreclosure sale, the Trustee may sell the real property by public auction. Generally, the lender will provide the trustee with a minimum credit bid before the foreclosure sale. The amount of the credit bid may be for the full amount of the debt owed to the beneficiary or only a portion of what is owed to the beneficiary. Any person or entity may attend the foreclosure sale and bid for the real property.
<strong>What is Nevada’s “One Action Rule”?</strong>
Nevada has adopted a one-action rule. It provides that there may be only one action to collect a debt secured by a mortgage or other lien. The Nevada One Action rules provides: (NRs 40.430(1)-(3).
1. There may be but one action for the recovery of any debt, or for the enforcement of any right secured by a mortgage or other lien upon real estate. That action must be in accordance with the provision of this section and NRS 40.433 to 40.459, inclusive. In that action, the judgment must be rendered for the amount found due the plaintiff, and the court, by its decree or judgment, may direct a sale or the encumbered property, or such part thereof as is necessary, and apply the proceeds of the sale as provided in NRs 40.462.
2. This section must be construed to permit a secured creditor to realize upon the collateral for a debt or other obligation agreed upon by the debtor and creditor when the debt or other obligation was incurred.
3. A sale directed by the court pursuant to subsection 1 must be conducted in the same manner as the sale of real property upon execution, by the sheriff of the county in which the encumbered land is situated, and if the encumbered land is situated in two or more counties, the court shall direct the sheriff of one of the counties to conduct the sale with like proceedings and effect as if the whole of the encumbered land were situated in that county.
<strong>What is a Wrongful Foreclosure Action?</strong>
A wrongful foreclosure action is an action filed in superior court by the borrower against the servicer, the holder of the note, and usually the foreclosing trustee. The complaint usually alleges that there was an “illegal, fraudulent or willfully oppressive sale of property under a power of sale contained in a mortgage or deed of trust.” Munger v. Moore (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d. 1. The wrongful foreclosure action is often brought prior to the non-judicial foreclosure sale in order to delay the sale, but the action may also be brought after the non-judicial foreclosure sale.
A borrower in a wrongful foreclosure can allege that the amount stated as due and owing in the notice of default is incorrect for one or more of the following reasons:
- an incorrect interest rate adjustment,
- incorrect tax impound accounts,
- misapplied payments,
- a forbearance agreement which was not adhered to by the servicer, unnecessary forced place insurance,
- improper accounting for a confirmed chapter 11 or chapter 13 bankruptcy plan.
- Wrongful foreclosure actions are also brought when the servicers accept partial payments after initiation of the wrongful foreclosure process, then continue with the foreclosure.
- Companion allegations for emotional distress and punitive damages usually accompany any wrongful foreclosure action.
- Also, a loan modification process was initiated, but stopped in bad faith by your lender.
- Deceptive trade practice under Nevada Laws.
- Violations of TILA
- Violations of RESPA
- Violations of HOEPA.
- Contractual Breach
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress
- Wrongful foreclosure
- Promissory Estoppel.
Damages available to a borrower in a wrongful foreclosure action are an amount sufficient to compensate for all detriment proximately caused by the servicer or trustee’s wrongful conduct. Damages are usually measured by value of the property at the time of the sale in excess of the mortgage and lien against the property. Munger v. Moore (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d. 1. Additionally, the borrower may also obtain damages for emotional distress in a wrongful foreclosure action. Young v. Bank of America (1983) 141 Cal.App.3d 108; Anderson v. Heart Federal Savings & Loan Assn. (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d. 202. Further, if the borrower can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the servicer or trustee was guilty of fraud, oppression or malice in its wrongful conduct, punitive damages may be awarded.
<strong>How Can a Wrongful Foreclosure Action Delay Recovery of the Security?
</strong>A wrongful foreclosure suit filed in District court will not necessarily delay a servicer’s recovery of its security. The companion filings to such a suit (notice of pending action, injunction and/or motion to consolidate) however can delay a servicer’s ultimate recovery. Delay caused by a wrongful foreclosure action can be anywhere from forty-five days to two years.
A notice of pending action (“lis pendens”) is the most common companion to a wrongful foreclosure action. A lis pendens is recorded in the county in which the real property security is located at the time the wrongful foreclosure action is filed. The only requirement for a lis pendens to be recorded is an attorney’s signature that the action which is being noticed actually involves a real property claim. The purpose of the lis pendens is to put all third parties on notice that the borrower and the servicer are litigating over the real property security. Once a lis pendens is recorded, no title insurance company will issue a title insurance policy unless and until the lis pendens is removed. Although the servicer may “bond around” the lis pendens without title insurance, the real property security is virtually inalienable.
While a lis pendens can be filed at any time in the foreclosure process, a borrower applies for an injunction prior to the foreclosure sale with the intent of keeping the foreclosure sale at bay until issues in the lawsuit are resolved. The lawsuit can take anywhere from ten to twenty-four months. Generally, an injunction will only be issued if it appears to the court that: (1) the borrower is entitled to the injunction; and (2) that if the injunction is not granted, the borrower will be subject to irreparable harm. Like an action to expunge a lis pendens, a borrower’s application for an injunction is essentially a “mini-trial” on the merits.
There are important issues which are considered in nearly all injunctive relief action applications is the amount due and owing on the note and deed of trust. Again, it is imperative in any injunctive hearing that the servicer provide a detailed analysis of the amount it contends is due and owing on the note and deed of trust at issue. Sometime it is not possible for your servicer and they are unable to provide a breakdown of the amounts due and owing on the note and deed of trust at issue. Again, sometime they only can provide insufficient information to refute the borrower’s allegations, it is likely the injunction will be issued. Now comes the question of producing a bond from the borrowers, and making timely payments. In many cases, judges make their own laws when they experience heart wrenching stories from the borrowers, and their sorrowful tales have a deeper impact upon the judges, the issue injunctions. Of course tough standards are required by Nevada judicial system in issuing these injunctions but sometime the judges issue minimal bonds and little or no debt service requirements. This worst case scenario translates into a servicer being unable to sell the security and receiving no payments on the underlying debt during the life of the lawsuit. In reality, judges are loath to modify an injunction after it is issued and prior to a decision on the merits. Once an injunction with little or no debt service or bond is in place, the wrongful foreclosure suit will be a long and expensive process because the borrower has lost all incentive for a quick resolution of the action.
Another way borrowers delay a servicer’s recovery of its security through a wrongful foreclosure action is by consolidating their wrongful foreclosure action with their unlawful detainer action. Asuncion v. Superior Court (1980) 108 Cal. App. 3d 141. The Asuncion case which is usually relied upon by borrowers for consolidation contains an egregious fact scenario including clear fraud in the inducement of the loan. Judges however, do not limit the application of Asuncion to cases where fraud is alleged by the borrower. In applying Asuncion, a court can allow the unlawful detainer suit to be consolidated with the wrongful foreclosure action if there is a mere similarity of issues in the cases.
If the borrowers plays all the cards tactfully the final disposition of the case can be delayed anywhere from ten months to two years.
Nevada law provides many unique procedural remedies which may be employed in battling a wrongful foreclosure action. Judicious use of these procedures by counsel and close coordination between counsel and client can lessen the pain of defending a wrongful foreclosure action.