California Judge Rules for Borrower in Post-Sale Eviction Proceeding
Originally by Neil Garfield
This is the latest of a string of decisions from trial judges who took the time to carefully analyze the law and then facts. In this case the issue was whether the Plaintiff in a lawsuit for Unlawful Detainer could be awarded Summary Judgment simply because the sale had been recorded.
This decision, following the law in all jurisdictions, says that recording the sale is interesting but not dispositive. If the actual sale was void because ti was conducted in favor of a party who was not a true beneficiary under the deed of trust, then the sale itself is void.
This judge quote approvingly from otheor case decisions words to the effect that any other decision would produce the absurd result of allowing completely disinterested parties to issue instructions to sell the property and then claim possession of homestead property.
Despite the long line of “bad results” published, this case shows that a case properly presented, properly argued and based upon sound legal reasoning has a good chance of gaining traction even after the foreclosure has been allowed to proceed. That means you need to prepare and be certain as to your facts and that you don’t ask the court to presume facts in your favor.
We don’t know how this case will be decided at trial, if there is one. In all probability this case, like thousands of others like it, will most likely be buried by settlement with the homeowner and payment to the homeowner for executing a confidentiality agreement.
For those who bother to actually read the decision it looks like I wrote it. I didn’t. My point is that what I have provided in my articles is not theory. It is fact based upon established law and the real facts of most foreclosure cases. The assignments are void.
If the Plaintiff in this Unlawful Detainer case is unable to prove at trial that it is the owner of the debt it will lose because owning the debt is the key component or element of being a beneficiary under a deed of trust and a key component or element of a valid credit bid.
See 2019.07.15 – Minute order for MSJ
Key quotes from this decision:
“To establish that he is a proper plaintiff, one who has purchased property at a trustee’s sale and seeks to evict the occupant in possession must show that he acquired the property at a regularly conducted sale and thereafter “duly perfected” his title.” ((Code Civ. Proc., § 1161 a, subdiv. 3.) (Id.))[California]”
“[W]here the plaintiff in the unlawful detainer action is the purchaser at a trustee’s sale, he or she ‘need only prove a sale in compliance with the statute and deed of trust, followed by the purchase at such sale, and the defendant may raise objections only on that phase of the issue of title.”‘ (Bank of New York Mellon v. Preciado, (2013) 224 Cal. App. 4th Supp. 1, citing, Old Nat’/ Fin. Servs. V. Seibert (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 460, 465, 239 Cal.Rptr. 728.) “The statute” with which a post-foreclosure plaintiff must prove compliance is Civ. Code, § 2924. (Bank of New York Mellon v. Preciado, supra, citing Seidell v. Anglo-California Trusts Co. (1942) 55 Cal.App.2d 913, 920, 132 P.2d 12.)
The term ‘duly’ implies that all of those elements necessary to a valid sale exist, else there would not be a sale at all.” (Bank of New York Mellon v. Preciado, supra at 9-10, citing Kessler v. Bridge (1958) 161 Cal.App.2d Supp. 837, 841, 327 P .2d 241 [internal citations omitted].) This holding by the court in Preciado makes clear that in Code Civ. Proc., § 1161a post-foreclosure trustee sale cases, a focus on the sale itself (rather than simply the recorded title documentation) is part of the analysis of determining whether the title was “duly perfected.”
subsequent buyer must also prove that the trustee sale was conducted in accordance with Civ. Code, § 2924 and that title has been duly perfected. (Stephens, Parlain & Cunningham v. Hollis, supra, at p. 242.)
[l]f the borrower defaults on the loan, only the current beneficiary may direct the trustee to undertake the nonjudicial foreclosure process. “[O]nly the ‘true owner’ or ‘beneficial holder’ of a Deed of Trust can bring to completion a nonjudicial foreclosure under California law.” (Barrioneuveo v Chase Bank, N.A. (N.D.Cal.2012) 885 F.Supp.2d 964, 972.” (Id. at pp. 927-928.) Where the nonjudicial post-foreclosure trustee sale is not property initiated, ” … a borrower may base a wrongful foreclosure claim on allegations that the foreclosing party acted without authority because the assignment by which it purportedly became beneficiary under the deed of trust was not merely voidable but void.” (Yvanonova, supra, at pp. 851-852.)
“A void contract is without legal effect. (Rest.2d Contracts,§ 7, com. A.) “It binds no one and is a mere nullity.” (Little v. CFS Service Corp. (1987) 188 Cal.App.3d 1354, 1362, 233 Cal.Rptr. 923.) “Such a contract has no existence whatever. It has no legal entity for any purpose and neither action nor inaction of a party to it can validate it …. ” (Colby v. Title Ins. And Trust Co. (1911) 160 Cal. 632, 644, 117 P. 913.)
“If a purported assignment necessary to the chain by which the foreclosing entity claims that power is absolutely void, meaning of no legal force or effect whatsoever, [internal citations omitted] the foreclosing entity has acted without legal authority by pursuing a trustee’s sale, and such an unauthorized sale constitutes a wrongful foreclosure. (Yvanonova, supra, at pp. 855-856; citing Barrionuevo v. Chase Bank, N.A., at pp. 973-974. it would be an “‘odd result indeed’ were a court to conclude a homeowner had no recourse where anyone, even a stranger to the debt, had declared a default and ordered a trustee’s sale.”
“[w]hen a non-debtholder forecloses, a homeowner is harmed because he or she has lost her home to an entity with no legal right to take it. If not for the void assignment, the incorrect entity would not have pursued a wrongful foreclosure. Therefore, the void assignment is the cause-in-fact of the homeowner’s injury and all he or she is required to allege on the element of prejudice.” (Id. at pp. 555-556.) “A contrary rule would lead to a legally untenable situation – i.e., that anyone can foreclose on a homeowner because someone has the right to foreclose. ‘And since lenders can avoid the court system entirely through nonjudicial foreclosures, there would be no court oversight whatsoever.”‘
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