This has been a bad year for for the American homeowner and law enforcement. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and answered questions about the financial crisis and the response of the Justice Department. When asked why no big banks have been criminally prosecuted for their role in the mortgage crisis, Holder admitted what we have known for many years. America’s biggest banks are not only too big to fail, they are “too big to jail”.

His remarks come on the heals of similar remarks from the Comptroller of the Currency and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the Attorney General’s own words, “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute — if we do bring a criminal charge — it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.”

In our opinion, big banks have simply been given a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. The same banks that received billions of dollars of TARP money – our hard earned tax dollars – are getting a free pass for their mismanagement, greed and waste.

Several states have a “3 strikes” law that permits a judge to send a thief to prison for life after just 3 thefts. These same laws don’t apply to our largest banks, however. Bank of America can wrongfully mismanage its HAMP loan modification program and put innocent homeowners on the street. The consequence? A fine.

Although only the Department of Justice can charge bank officers with federal crimes, the American jury system is alive and well and can still hit big banks in their wallets. Suits for wrongful foreclosure and other fraud actions can result in significant punitive damages.

About the author. Brian Mahany is an attorney and principal at Mahany & Ertl, a national boutique firm that specializes in suing banks and mortgage companies. His firm represents the whistleblower in the largest false claims act case in the United States against a lender, HUD’s $2.4 billion case against Allied Home Mortgage.

If you have been defrauded by a bank contact attorney Brian Mahany at brian@mahanyertl.com or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). Mr. Mahany can also be contacted through his website, http://www.mahanyertl.com.

The opinions in this post are solely those of the author. The author takes full responsibility for the content. Like all blog posts, this is offered for general information purposes and does not constitute legal advice.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

With so many programs in place to help homeowners avoid foreclosures and keep their homes, it can be difficult to figure out who is legitimate and who is harboring less than honest intentions. If you are trying to get a modification on your home loan or looking for a way to avoid or manage a looming foreclosure, make sure you take some time to evaluate a company before jumping into a business deal. Dealing with a potential foreclosure can be emotional and challenging, so find a company that is available to meet your needs and work with your lender on your behalf. If you aren’t sure whether to trust a company, call the Attorney General and find out if there are any complaints on file.

One of the first questions you should ask is whether the foreclosure modification company expects any money up front. If the company wants you to pay them before any work is done, you might want to reconsider doing business. You should also be skeptical of any company that promises you they can save your home. That decision will ultimately be the bank’s call. If the foreclosure modification company promises they can get you a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment, you should also be suspicious. A good foreclosure modification company will evaluate your current situation and offer you options for how to modify your mortgage and save your home. They should not charge any fees up front and they cannot make promises that they will not be able to follow through on. If you have additional questions about this process, Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help. Contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at floridarealestatelawyer.org.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

With foreclosure numbers still high, the housing environment is susceptible to various scams and dishonest companies trying to do further damage an already shaky industry. Many homeowners are falling victim to foreclosure “rescue” scams, which cannot only give homeowners a false sense of security but also rob them of their property and equity. A foreclosure rescue scam involves a company promising a homeowner in distress that they can save their home from foreclosure. Usually, this promise is false and the home cannot be saved. The scam artists will take your money and property, and leave you without your home. Here are the worst foreclosure rescue scams to avoid:

• Foreclosure specialists. These “experts” promise they can save your home or modify your mortgage, and will collect money from you up front.

• Phantom help. A company will charge you for things you can do on your own, such as negotiating with your lender.

• Bait and switch. A company will convince a homeowner to sign over the deed to his or her house, under the guise that new mortgage documents are being signed.

• False bailout. A homeowner will think he or she can rent their home from a new owner with the intention of buying it back. This usually works with a scam where homeowners agree to sign over the deed to their homes.

If you have additional questions about Forclosure “Rescue” Scams or believe you’ve been the victim of one, Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help. Contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at floridarealestatelawyer.org.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

A 3-Day Notice is most often served in Florida when a tenant does not pay rent, and the landlord intends to pursue eviction proceedings. Any violation of the lease terms can result in a 3-Day Notice, which demands that the tenant either rectify the problem or leave the property. Three business days are given to you for this purpose. Weekends and court holidays will not count towards the three days.

If you receive a 3-Day Notice, you should immediately contact your landlord or the property management company that oversees your rental home. You must be prepared to reach an agreement if you want to stay in the house. This means catching up on the rent you owe, getting rid of a pet that is prohibited or whatever course of action is required.

If you do not reach an agreement with your landlord, or pay the rent that is owed and the three days pass, you will have to prepare yourself for an eviction. The landlord will file at the courthouse, and you will receive a court date. If the landlord prevails and your eviction is granted by a judge, you will have only a few days to move out of the property. If you want to stay in the property, it is essential to resolve any disputes you can with the landlord as soon as you receive a 3-Day Notice. If you have additional questions about this process, Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help. Contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at floridarealestatelawyer.org.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

If your landlord is selling the home you happen to be renting, there is a reasonable notice that must be given before he or she enters your home. Your lease will tell you how much notice is required. Most lease agreements require landlords to give their tenants at least 24 hours notice. As a tenant, you cannot deny access to your landlord if he wants to show your property to potential buyers. However, you can require that written notice is provided to be before the landlord enters the property. Your lease might indicate that more notice is required, but most rental agreements have a clause with the 24-hour requirement.

While it can often be awkward to have your landlord in your home, especially with potential buyers, it is a good idea to make the property available. Before you grant or refuse access, check your lease. The lease you signed probably allows your landlord to come into the property when necessary. Even though you live in the house, it still belongs to someone else, and you have to make reasonable accommodations. If you are willing to work with your landlord and allow him to come into your home when he needs to, he will likely be more willing to work around your schedule and visit the property at a time that is convenient for you. If you are worried your landlord has violated your lease, talk to a lawyer knowledgeable in landlord/tenant law. Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can answer your questions. Contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at floridarealestatelawyer.org.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

When you lose your home in foreclosure, the bank takes over the property, but you might be wondering who becomes responsible for property taxes. Many homeowners who go through a foreclosure worry that they are required to continue paying taxes. Those overdue real estate taxes are a problem, but most attorneys agree that the homeowner is not responsible for them. Those taxes are associated with the property itself, not the people who are living in the property. Therefore, if you are no longer tied to the property because of a foreclosure, the unpaid or overdue property taxes are not your problem. Consult an attorney with expertise in foreclosures or real estate law just to double check. However, you should not worry about paying taxes on property you no longer own.

Taxes on any personal property will be your responsibility. However, the tax liability on your property will transfer to the new property owner. So, if someone buys your house at a foreclosure auction, that new buyer will have to assume the tax burden. If your lender is going to hold onto your property for a while, the lender will have to take over the tax payments. As soon as you realize you are going to allow your home to go into foreclosure, you should stop paying your property taxes. If you are planning to strategically default, do not pay any new property taxes. Be careful if you are trying to negotiate a short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. In those cases, your lender might require that your property taxes are paid up and current in order to agree to any kind of deal. Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help you navigate this process. Contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at floridarealestatelawyer.org.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

When you want to add names to your house deed while keeping yourself on it as well, the best thing to do is complete a quitclaim deed. With a quitclaim deed, you can transfer the ownership rights from yourself to yourself as well as other people. For example, if you are getting married and you own a home, you might want to add your husband or wife’s name to your home. Instead of refinancing it or going through a complicated sale, all you have to do is file a quitclaim deed in which you transfer ownership from yourself to you and your new spouse. It’s not very complicated, and it will give you as well as any other person you want to add rights to your property.

A real estate attorney can help you with a quitclaim deed for just a little time and money. While there might be other options available in order to get an extra person’s name on your deed, a quitclaim deed will provide you with what you need, while keeping your own rights intact. Talk to Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, about your desire to add someone to your deed with a quitclaim deed. Contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at floridarealestatelawyer.org.

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The process of removing a person’s name from the deed depends on the circumstances. If one party who is named on the deed dies, that name will automatically be removed from the deed, and there is very little that needs to be done. A real estate attorney should review the deed as well as any wills, trusts or estate plans that are in place in order to make sure additional provisions are not required. If you want to remove a living person’s name from your deed, you will need to go through a little extra legal maneuvering. You will need to do a deed transfer or file a quitclaim deed, which is especially useful if you are removing a name from a deed in order to give the property as a gift to someone else, or if you are getting a divorce.

In the case of divorce and gifting, the party who has legal rights of ownership to the property will file a deed transfer or a quitclaim deed, granting full ownership to another party. This will effectively remove the prior owner from the deed and deny him or her any additional rights to the property. Talk to your real estate attorney if the deed is being contested. Cases of divorce can be messy, and if one party does not agree to voluntarily remove himself from the deed, you will need the help of an attorney to make it happen. Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help you navigate this process. Contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at floridarealestatelawyer.org.

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.

An upside down mortgage can cause great financial and emotional stress to any homeowner. It happens when you owe more on your home than it is worth and in the long term, it looks like you’ll have a very hard time coming out on top. Don’t lose hope. There are specific things you can do to get out of your upside down mortgage.

1. Modify your mortgage – Thanks to federal programs like HAMP and HARP, you can work with your lender to modify the terms of your mortgage. You may be able to lower your principal or interest rate.

2. Short sale – If your lender gives you permission, you can sell your home for less than what you owe. This helps you avoid a foreclosure and satisfies your lender to the point that you will not be required to make up the difference.

3. Keep paying – Even if you are upside down on your mortgage now, you will get to the point that you own your house outright. You can keep making your monthly mortgage payments, and maybe even sneak in an extra payment once in a while when you have the cash. You’ll pay your home off quicker and then your mortgage will be a non-issue.

4. Rent the house out – If you can command a monthly rent that is high enough to cover your mortgage as well as maintenance and repair expenses, you can find a less expensive place to live for yourself and save some money.

5. Strategic default – Instead of waiting for the bank to foreclose, you can walk away. Expect credit damage, but at least you won’t have that loan hanging over your head.

Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help you explore your options and make the best choice. Contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at https://floridarealestatelawyer.org/ourfirm/.

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When a lender brings a foreclosure action against a property owner in Florida, that lawsuit covers anyone and everyone who might also have a claim to the property. If you are living in a home that is being foreclosed on, the bank may include you as a defendant not because you will owe them any money or may be pursued for any damages, but because the bank will want a clean and clear title on the property, and you as a tenant may be a complication for them. The first thing you want to do is make sure you continue paying your rent. You should pay the property owner until the foreclosure is finalized. Once the foreclosure is complete, if you are still living in the property you might be instructed to make rental payments to the court.

Being served or included in a foreclosure lawsuit when you do not even own the property can be frightening and confusing. Do not panic. If you are not sure what you should do, contact a real estate attorney or a lawyer who is experienced in foreclosures. You will not be evicted from the property if you continue making rental payments. There is a law in place to protect tenants during a foreclosure. If you are under a lease agreement, you can finish out your lease. If you are renting outside of a lease agreement, you will have 90 days to find a new place to live. There is no need to panic about the lawsuit. Once you are no longer a tenant on the property, you will be dropped from it and it will remain a legal matter between the property owner and the lender. Stephen K. Hachey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help you navigate this process. Contact our offices at 813-549-0096.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at www.floridarealestatelawyer.org/

This post was written by Stephen Hachey. Follow Stephen on Google, Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin.