Last year's robo-signing scandals delayed tens of thousands of foreclosures in the 23 states where the process is handled in court. A new controversy could complicate foreclosures in the other 27 states.
At issue is the notice of default, the first letter that a mortgage lender or servicer sends to a homeowner who has fallen behind on payments. The notice typically starts the formal foreclosure process in nonjudicial states such as California, Arizona and Nevada.
Every notice of default has a signature on it. But just like the infamously rubber-stamped affidavits in the robo-signing cases, default notices, in at least some instances, have been signed by employees who did not verify the information in them, court papers show. In several lawsuits filed in nonjudicial states, borrower attorneys are arguing that this is grounds to stop a foreclosure.
"Whoever signs the NOD needs to have knowledge that there is in fact a default," said Christopher Peterson, an associate dean and law professor at the University of Utah.
Uh oh, this could be very bad for the "banks."