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How does robo-signing lead to unjust foreclosures?

As with most other civil litigation, a foreclosure proceeding can often seem like a battle of paperwork. Among the many documents filed by the lender and homeowner to the court, or delivered to each other, are affidavits. Affidavits are legal documents in which someone attests that something is true. The party making the assertion must sign the affidavit.

In the foreclosure context, one of the main affidavits usually comes from the mortgage servicer. This affidavit generally claims that the servicer or mortgage holder has the right to foreclose because the mortgagee (a term for the party paying the mortgage) has defaulted on the loan.

During the foreclosure crisis a few years ago, mortgage servicers were issuing a blizzard of these affidavits, with the purpose of convincing the judge presiding over the foreclosure to grant summary judgment. If the judge does so, there will be no trial and the homeowner will not get the chance to fight in court to keep his or her home.

When someone representing a mortgage servicer signs an affidavit, it is supposed to mean that he or she reviewed the document first to verify that everything it says is true, to the best of his or her knowledge. Unfortunately, in their zeal to foreclose on as many people as possible, many servicers practiced “robo-signing.”

Robo-signing refers to rapidly signing several foreclosure affidavits at a time, without adequately reading them first. This can result in a mortgagee getting foreclosed on based on inaccurate information. If the affidavit is the basis of summary judgment, the homeowner could be turned out of his or her home unfairly.

Fortunately, accusing the servicer of robo-signing is one way to challenge a petition for summary judgment. Evidence of robo-signing, or that the affidavit contains inaccurate information, should help convince the judge that there are reasons to give the homeowner his or her day in court.

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