No Brakes: Loan Acceleration and Diminishing Foreclosure Defenses
18 Wake Forest Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law 389 (2018)
Wayne State University Law School Research Paper No. 2018-45
55 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2018
Date Written: June 15, 2018
The high volume of foreclosures during and following the Great Recession in the United States led to the revelation of many troubling lending practices. It also led to problematic judicial decisions that erode borrower protection by curtailing or eliminating procedural requirements and substantive defenses with respect to foreclosure. This Article examines the treatment of statute of limitation and res judicata defenses after a loan has been accelerated following a borrower default. Some courts ignore the traditional rule that acceleration under a contract starts the clock for statute of limitation purposes or that acceleration consolidates the loan instrument into a single obligation as opposed to an installment obligation. Instead, these courts have permitted lenders to accelerate loans repeatedly without triggering the statute of limitations or res judicata defenses. Consequently, lenders are permitted to assert foreclosure claims with respect to the same underlying debt amount over and over again. Rather than being used as a last resort, acceleration and the subsequent foreclosure process can now be wielded as a significant threat to borrowers throughout the life of their home loan. Consistent with favoritism demonstrated in our prior research, we argue that creating exceptions for lenders in the application of statutes of limitation and res judicata defenses provides little incentive for banks and servicers to reform questionable lending and collection practices.
Keywords: foreclosure, mortgage, acceleration, res judicata, statute of limitations, robo-litigation, home loan
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