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Mortgage Servicers Continue to Ignore Deferment Protections for California Military under State Law

It should go without saying that the stress and worry of being deployed is high enough on its own. Add to that stress the concerns over mortgage loans, vehicle loans, credit cards, student loans, and leaving property in storage for several months. Fortunately, California law provides such protections to military reservists that goes much farther than the protections afforded by the Federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
For instance, California Military and Veterans Code 800 provides military reservists called to active duty very strong protections with respect to up to 6 months of deferment on mortgage loans, residential lease contracts, automobile loans, credit cards, and other consumer debts. During this time, no penalties can be assessed against the account for non-payment, the account cannot be reported as delinquent or negative to credit reporting agencies, and no foreclosure proceedings on a mortgage loan can be undertaken. These protections apply equally to the deployed servicemember’s spouse and dependents.
One way that the California law is stronger than the Federal law is that, unlike the Federal law, the State law does not require petitioning the courts to first obtain an order of deferment, because the protections are required to be given if the servicemember simply provides a letter to the creditor, sworn under penalty of perjury, specifically requesting such a deferment and includes a copy of the deployment orders therein. If the credit/loan obligation was incurred before the date of the deployment orders, then the protections are mandatory.
Unfortunately, however, we have seen a disturbing pattern over the years where out-of-state mortgage servicing companies fail to understand California laws in this regard and fail to honor and respect these State laws. But our firm is here to help, as we have extensive knowledge and experience in these laws. We even met with the Colonel who was integral in the writing and passing of these laws to gain a better understanding and insight into their application. This means you and your loved can trust in our ability to handle these claims and advocate on your behalf.
Recently, we filed two new lawsuits against such mortgage companies who just can’t seem to get it right. On November 8, 2018, we filed a lawsuit against Pacific Union Financial, LLC, which you can view by clicking HERE. On November 10, 2018, we filed a complaint against Selene Finance, LP, which you can view HERE.
In each case, the spouse left home during the servicemembers’ deployment has had to endure the completely unnecessary stress and aggravation of dealing with repeated false claims of delinquency and false claims of the amounts owed on each mortgage loan. During a time that is hard enough for the non-deployed spouse to be left home addressing all the family financial responsibilities alone, they were forced to endure more stress that they should have been able to trust would not have arisen. If you or a loved one are experiencing similar problems, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your rights and whether our firm can help protect you as well.

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MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES: HAD YOUR PROPERTY SOLD, FORCLOSED, OR REPOSSED DURING DEPLOYMENT? YOUR RIGHTS MAY HAVE BEEN VIOLATED!

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on February 20, 2015

 

The U.S. Servicemembers Civil Relief Act at 50 U.S.C.S Appx. §537 prohibits anyone from enforcing a lien sale or executing a repossession lien—without first obtaining a court order—upon the property or effects of members of the armed forces during deployment and up to 90 days after return from service. The goal for such a prohibition is so that the servicemember can dutifully serve his or her country with honor, and without having to carry the stress and anxiety over whether their property back home will be safe and secure. A violation of this prohibition is a misdemeanor crime, and can be punishable by up to one year in custody and fines. Additionally, a servicemember whose rights have been violated can pursue a civil lawsuit against the violator and recover damages sustained as a result of the violation in addition to attorneys’ fees and costs of pursuing litigation.

A lawsuit recently filed by Semnar & Hartman, LLP alleges that a vehicle auto-body shop called Pro Custom in Oceanside, California violated this very prohibition. The Complaint can be read by clicking HERE

This lawsuit alleges that Pro Custom promised to hold the servicemember’s car during his period of deployment and promised to safely store the vehicle until his return from deployment. The servicemember then left for approximately 7 months of deployment only to find out upon his return that the vehicle had been sold through a non-judicial lien sale. The lawsuit alleges that Pro Custom sold the vehicle to recover only $2,200.00 for services, and even though the vehicle was worth approximately $14,000.00 the servicemember has not been provided with any finances that would make up the difference between the amount Pro Custom sold the vehicle for and what Pro Custom claimed was owed to them. Even after the member inquired as to why Pro Custom sold the vehicle after they promised to safely hold it upon his return, Pro Custom claimed he abandoned the vehicle and still failed to provide him with any proceeds from the sale.

The lawsuit further alleges that Pro Custom has been continuing to take out of the servicemember’s bi-weekly paychecks money for services performed on credit prior to the member’s deployment, even though Pro Custom seized the property when they sold the vehicle and has recovered any finances alleged to be owed to them for the services on credit by keeping all of the proceeds of the sale. The lawsuit alleges that this conduct is a violation of the California Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, for unfair and oppressive conduct, misrepresentations and false statements as to what Pro Custom is owed, and for taking action that cannot legally be taken.

The lawsuit is seeking actual damages for the servicemember for the loss of the value of the vehicle, loss of use of the vehicle, emotional distress and mental anguish for not having a vehicle for the past 10 months and having to beg for rides from friends to attend his physical therapy sessions for an injury sustained during deployment, recovery of all monies taken by Pro Custom for the services previously performed on credit, recovery of all monies the member has paid to the vehicle financier since his return from deployment, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. Moreover, because Pro Custom regularly advertises to military members and claims to “Support our Troops”, this lawsuit is also seeking punitive damages as a means for punishing them for their egregious unlawful conduct and to prevent future abuses against other military members.

If you or a loved one are deployed or about to be deployed, please know that you have rights when it comes to your property. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights and whether your rights may have been violated.

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LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST WESTSTAR MORTGAGE INC. ALLEGES THE COMPANY DOES NOT PROTECT CALIFORNIA’S DEPLOYED MILITARY

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on November 11, 2014

 

On November 5, 2014, Semnar & Hartman, LLP filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California against Weststar Mortgage, Inc. alleging multiple violations of the law, including violations of the California Military and Veterans’ Code and the California Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The lawsuit is based on Weststar Mortgage’s failure to recognize and honor certain protections to which deployed military members are entitled.

Unfortunately, however, Weststar Mortgage treated the Plaintiffs as being in default during the very time period that the payments were supposed to have been deferred, and also threatened foreclosure and imposed late fees and penalties upon the account. Weststar even took the egregious step of insisting that the Plaintiffs pay a lump sum in excess of $6,000.00 in order to extend the maturity of the mortgage loan despite the fact that the military law requires such extension upon the maturity to match the time period of deferment. Bottom line, a deployed military member should NOT have to pay a lump sum of over $6,000.00 in order to be provided protections to which the military member and his family is ENTITLED BY LAW.

For more detailed information, Read the Complaint here.

Anyone who has information about similar or other illegal conduct by Weststar Mortage, Inc. please call us to discuss the details.

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DEPLOYED MILITARY MEMBERS ARE PROTECTED FROM DEFAULT!!

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on July 28, 2014

 

If you or a loved one is in any branch of the military and is deployed or pending deployment, the servicemember may be protected from being declared to be in default on certain financial obligations. Members of the national military branches (U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, or U.S. Navy) are protected under federal law found at 50 U.S.C. Appendix 500 to 597b—known as the Federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Members of the California National Guard or the California Reserves are protected under state law found at California Military and Veterans Code 800 to 812—known as the California Military Families Financial Relief Act. State guardsmen of any state may be protected under the federal laws if they are dispatched in response to a national emergency under Presidential orders.

  1. To not be found in default on certain financial credit obligations during a specified time period as provided by law (typically no less than 6 months and no longer than the term of deployment);
  2. To defer payments on the financial obligation for a specified time period as provided by law;
  3. To not be subjected to any remedies granted to the creditor for breach of the payment obligations (such as prohibitions from vehicle repossession, home foreclosure, derogatory credit reporting, and/or pursuing a lawsuit); and
  4. Possible reduction in the interest rate upon the outstanding debt so that the accumulated interest is no oppressive upon reinstating financial obligations.

However, in order to invoke these protections, both sets of laws require the servicemember to take the following actions:

  1. Send a letter to the creditor, signed by the servicemember under penalty of perjury, requesting deferment of the specific financial obligation, and
  2. Enclose with the letter a copy of the servicemember’s deployment orders.

Please note that THE ONLY WAY TO INVOKE THESE PROTECTIONS IS TO TAKE THE ACTIONS DESCRIBED ABOVE.

Many financial institutions are not properly informed of these laws, and therefore they do not properly train their employees and agents on how to honor these protections. It is VERY COMMON for financial institutions to simply ignore the written request for deferment, or to erroneously claim that the servicemember is not protected. This is especially true when the servicemember is a California guardsman and the financial institution is not familiar with the California state laws that specifically protect guardsmen in the absence of protection under federal laws.

A financial institution that ignores these protections, IF PROPERLY INVOKED BY THE SERVICEMEMBER, is subject to a civil lawsuit to recover actual damages (such as emotional distress and/or loss of actual money or property), as well as attorney’s fees and costs of bringing the lawsuit. Such a lawsuit is permitted regardless of whether the financial institution knew they were breaking the law. However, intentional violations of these laws may result in criminal charges being prosecuted against the financial institution.

The California laws also protect the deployed servicemember’s spouse in the same manner as the servicemember, which means the spouse also has standing to bring his/her own lawsuit if s/he experienced any of the violations directly.

The law offices of Semnar Law Firm, Inc. and Hartman Law Offices, Inc. have teamed up to file multiple cases under these laws, and the two firms regularly tie these violations into additional causes of action under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the California Rosenthal Act. For example, one client who properly invoked his protections against Alphera Financial Services (a subsidiary of BMW Financial Services) and his wife had to experience the unfortunate experience of being actively harassed by Alphera during the serevicemember’s deployment with excessive phone calls, threats of repossession, threats of criminal prosecution, and the company’s agents even told the servicemember and his wife that they don’t care about these laws and they intended to repossess the vehicle for what they considered to be a default. This lawsuit can be found under this case number 5:14-cv-01357, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!!!! If you or a loved one is a servicemember who is deployed or is pending deployment, contact us immediately for a FREE, CONFIDENTIAL consultation to discuss your rights and the specific circumstances of any potential violations of your rights

Contact us today to schedule a free confidential consultation to discuss your rights!