As vaccination rates increase, holds on foreclosure actions expire, and the courts slowly return to addressing their largely frozen foreclosure dockets, we can expect some familiar concerns to reappear. One common concern is the threat of dismissal pursuant to CPLR 3216 for unreasonable neglect to proceed. Given the severe disruption to mortgage litigation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and its effects on the staffing and continuity of many firms whose main focus is residential foreclosures, it would not be surprising to see an uptick in CPLR 3216 notices and/or CPLR 3216 dismissals. As with any dismissal, this poses a serious threat to lien enforceability and could lead to complete loss of the lien if, by the time of dismissal, the foreclosure is beyond or approaching six years since acceleration. Fortunately, the threat posed to mortgage liens is mitigated somewhat by the strict requirements imposed by the statutory language of CPLR 3216 and controlling case law.
As the sheer impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, federal agencies are implementing policies across the country in an effort to lessen the financial burden on Americans. On March 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) authorized the Federal Housing Administration to place an immediate 60-day suspension on all evictions and foreclosures. HUD Secretary, Ben Carson, is hopeful this moratorium “will provide homeowners with some peace of mind during these trying times[.]”
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