As the new year dawns, many are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic — particularly homeowners.

It’s no small task keeping tabs on executive orders, loan programs and tax time deductions, but real opportunities for relief are available for those willing to seek them out. Starting with foreclosure.

So how are we fighting to find them for our clients? For one example, look to Administrative Order No.157/20 passed by the Honorable Lawrence K. Marks, the Chief Administrative Judge, on July 27, 2020.

The order mandates that the Court must initiate a status or settlement conference before any further procedures in foreclosure matters. Long and short? This allows the Court to review the procedural history of the case and examine whether the individual facing foreclosure qualifies for potential COVID relief.

Naturally, these hearings lend themselves to alternative dispute resolution to avoid long and drawn-out litigation, which can be especially stressful during this time. The same trend can be seen for loan modification agreements, forbearance agreements, principal reduction and repayment plans.

But as far as settling these matters in the courts, refer to a recent case of ours: Newly retained clients had gone back and forth with their lender for nearly four years. They had acted pro se for most of the case and failed to reach an agreement with the lender, resulting in their property being rescheduled for auction in October of 2020.

As their new representation, we requested a status hearing which the opposing counsel denied, in turn launching an aggressive campaign to halt our demands by arguing that Administrative Order No. 157/20 (2020) does not grant our clients the right to a hearing.

The main point of contention? Opposing counsel suggested the word “proceedings” in 4(a) of A.O. No. 157/20 does not include residential property sales and auctions, a stance we firmly argued, as the Court made no such distinction.

The claim that “further proceedings” referenced in the Administrative Order do not include sales and auctions — which at times are part of the foreclosure proceedings— is baseless. The only justification provided was that the A.O. discusses auctions in a separate paragraph that only provides guidance on their suspension until October 15, 2020 and the assessment of auction practices pertaining COVID-19 health measures.

Another point of contention was that a judgment had already been entered before the pandemic, and therefore the case did not qualify for potential COVID relief. This, again, is faulty logic since the issued A.O. does not specify a timeline for when a specific case qualifies for a hearing. No exceptions.

We held firm to our position: All cases are entitled to status and settlement conferences before further proceedings, including sales and auctions. This interpretation ultimately prevailed in court and we were successful in stopping the clients’ scheduled auction. In fact, the Deputy Chief Clerk, Leonard Ambroso, indicated to us that the opposing counsel’s interpretation of the Administrative Order was extremely unusual. Nassau County has since gone so far as to issue a notice on November 20, 2020, stating that the Court “must initiate a status or settlement conference to address a range of subjects related to the case and COVID-19 concerns.”

The leniency and protections secured by Administrative Order 157/20 (as well as many others) offer a chance for distressed homeowners to save their properties from foreclosure. Here at the Law Offices of Patrick Binakis, P.C., we’re ready to assist clients in maneuvering through the nuances of foreclosure laws during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leave the fine print to us, and leave your focus on keeping your loved ones safe and sound.

About the Law Offices of Patrick Binakis, P.C.

We service New York City’s five boroughs, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Ulster, Orange, and Dutchess counties.

Patrick Binakis is the president and founder of the Law Offices of Patrick Binakis, P.C., a <a href="https://www.nystateforeclosure...">New York foreclosure defense law firm</a href> servicing homeowners in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Ulster, and Dutchess counties, in Long Island and the Five Boroughs. Mr. Binakis has over five years of experience representing lenders in foreclosure actions and has now decided to take that experience and use it to help borrowers facing financial difficulties save their homes and protect them from lender abuses.

Mr. Binakis’ unique experience of “knowing where the other side is coming from” can provide borrowers with an unprecedented advantage in fighting back against the banks and servicers.

Learn how our professional team of experts can help you to stop foreclosure, defend and protect your legal rights, and work towards a favorable legal resolution today.