(CMR) Bodden Town resident Gregory Watt (Antony Ricardo) has been given one week to vacate his home that was foreclosed on and sold by Scotiabank earlier this month.
In what has turned into a public battle after many years of back and forth with his bank Justice Richard Williams rendered his decision earlier today after hearing from the bank's lawyers and Mr. Watt's lawyer, Clyde Allen, after a two-day civil court hearing.
Given the public interest in the case the matter was held in open court. Watt had previously taken his battle to the local talk show circuit as well as Facebook where he created a page called “Criminal Conviction”. His cause gained support from local representative Chris Saunders (BTW) and Ruthanna Young from Star 92.7fm Straight Talk. among others.
In light of many others losing their homes, there has been a call for mortgage reform to give consumers greater protection. Some gathered and held a protest about a week ago to show their support for this cause and law reform.
Saunders commented that
It is extremely sad and especially compounded by the time of year when people are looking forward to new years' resolutions and he's having to look for a new place to stay. It is clear that we need to do a better job of protecting consumers and we must make mortgage reform a priority
Ironically the Registered Land Law (“RLL”), specifically, Section 3 of the RLL that deals exclusively with legal charges was amended some years ago giving the bank's the ability to foreclose on a property without any intervention from the court. The previous position was that the mortgage possession process involved the proper service on the borrower of notices under RLL sections 64(2) and 72. Section 64(2) notice is in effect the “demand”.
Under section 72, if the borrower was in default for one month, the lender may serve on him notice in writing to pay the monies outstanding. If the borrower failed to comply with the section 64(2) notice within three months of the date of service, the lender could seek a court order entitling it to appoint a receiver or sell the charged property. In most cases, this will lead to the sale of the property.
Some years ago the members of the Legislative Assembly unanimously decided to allow banks to begin the forced sale process without the need to seek judicial consent.
In some jurisdictions, the sale of residential properties and dwelling houses have greater protection. Florida is one such jurisdiction with the Homestead Exemption – although this does not offer protection from voluntary liens such as mortgages.
The current PPM Coalition government has struggled with addressing this issue. in 2015 when North Side MLA Ezzard Miller advocated for mortgage reform the then ministers of finance and financial services promised workshops to help homeowners. At the time almost 200 homes were facing foreclosure proceedings. More recently Minister of Financial Services Tara Rivers addressed the complexities of addressing this issue on November 6 2017 in the Legislative Assembly.
The judge issued a 57-page judgment that provides substantial details into the circumstances surrounding this matter and why he came to the decision that he did. You can read the full ruling here.