According to a Reuters article printed today entitled, “New York Courts Impose New Foreclosure Rule“, courts are now requiring attorneys representing banks and lenders to sign an affidavit stating that they took reasonable steps to verify the contents of foreclosure documents they sign. This is their attempt to stop the too-common practice of “robosigning,” or signing and submitting documents to the courts without reading them or verifying their truthfulness.
It is a surprise attorneys do not do this in the first place. I would say it is malpractice (and certainly an ethical violation) to submit paperwork that can deprive homeowners of their homes without first making sure that the contents of the documents are accurate. This is what I call “lazy lawyering,” and it has caused so much of the mess many of our firm‘s potential clients and homeowners facing foreclosure have to deal with every day.
This problem (in my humble opinion) is the tip of the iceberg. The issue is not that attorneys are blindly submitting often false and inaccurate information. The problem is that there is an air of irresponsibility and a lack of ethics among the banks, the lenders, and the loan servicers where it is “chic” to break rules and to forge documents just to keep their “foreclosure machine” running smoothly without kinks.
What upsets me is that it is the homeowner that is hurt because the average joe and jane homeowner likely do not know how to tell the difference between falsified signatures and real ones, and even if they did, the documents that flow their way are so complicated that they really need an attorney just to understand what is going on.
Things should not be so complicated.
Also, if the New York courts think that forcing attorneys to sign a document saying that they looked at the documents they submitted will not stop them from robosigning those documents as well. What is really required is some TEETH, as in SANCTIONS for both the attorneys AND the underlying banks, lenders, and loan servicers. These sanctions need to be so steep that it will give these parties pause before submitting one more junk, forged, or inaccurate and unverified foreclosure document.
Additionally, instead of news articles and governments getting involved with new “rules” [which ARE already on the books, just not enforced], here the New York Office of Attorney Ethics (and each state’s attorney discipline board) should be involved in stopping attorneys each time it comes to their attention that a particular attorney or firm is involved in submitting documents without verifying their truthfulness.
An attorney should not be the puppet hand of a bank. Just as we have ethics that we are bound to follow, they too have ethics that they need to follow. The solution is not more paperwork, but simple ENFORCEMENT of the rules already in place.