How winning on minor technicalities can lead to a 25 year foreclosure battle

As lenders have recently had to slow down the foreclosure process because of running into trouble for not properly following procedures, the Wall Street Journal reports on another cautionary tale: one woman in Florida has stretched out her foreclosure for 25 years, not making a payment since 1985. According to the story, this has happened because the woman has been able to make successful arguments in the courts:

She has managed to stave off the banks partly because several courts have recognized that some of her legal arguments have some merit—however minor. Two foreclosure actions against her, for example, were thrown out because her lender sat on its hands too long after filing a case and lost its window to foreclose.

Ms. Campbell, who is handling her case these days without a lawyer, has learned how to work the ropes of the legal system so well that she has met every attempt by a lender to repossess her home with multiple appeals and counteractions, burying the plaintiffs facing her under piles of paperwork.

She offers no apologies for not paying her mortgage for 25 years, saying that when a foreclosure is in dispute, borrowers are entitled to stop making payments until the courts resolve the matter.

“This is every lender’s nightmare,” says Robert Summers, a Stuart, Fla., real-estate lawyer who represents Commercial Services of Perry, an Iowa-based buyer of distressed debt that currently owns Ms. Campbell’s mortgage and has been trying to foreclose. “Someone defending a foreclosure action can raise defenses that are baseless, but are obstacles for the foreclosing lender,” he says, calling the system “an unfair burden” for lenders.

I don’t know if the system is “unfair” for lenders but it is remarkable that the woman is openly guilty about not making a payment and yet is still able to win in court. Could lenders be this bad on following procedures? Or is the law really this in favor of people who haven’t made mortgage payments?

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