Today, Memphis’ Commercial Appeal–my favorite paper in the state–published an editorial titled “Nice Break for Banks” about proposed Tennessee legislation to reduce the number of newspaper notices that banks must publish prior to conducting foreclosure sales.
Instead of the current 3 consecutive publications required by Tennessee Code Annotated Section 35-5-101, Tennessee House Bill 1920 and Senate Bill 1299 would require only one notice and would cut out some of the legalese from the property description.
Opponents, including the editorial, complain that these proposals drastically expedite an already short and unsupervised process. The proposed changes “relieve lenders of practically all sense of responsibility in the foreclosure process adds insult to injury on Tennesseans,” the Commercial Appeal says.
From the bank’s perspective, running three publication notices in a newspaper drastically increases the cost of a foreclosure, and there’s good reason to believe that newspaper publication notices do not provide any greater assurance of actual notice to the defaulted borrowers.
Frankly, who reads those gigantic supplemental sections of the paper that are entirely devoted to pages and pages of small-print foreclosure notices? (And, frankly, who reads the newspaper anymore?)
It comes as no surprise that the newspaper industry thinks the current publication system should stay the same. I’ve seen numerous publication bills that exceed my legal fees for conducting the foreclosure. (And, yes, I’m looking right at you, Commercial Appeal.)
It’s disingenuous to suggest that borrowers will be victims of stealth foreclosures in Tennessee if publications are reduced, and the editorial entirely leaves out a discussion of Tenn. Code Ann. Sec. 35-5-117, which requires a Notice of Right to Foreclose be sent to defaulted borrowers at least 60 days in advance of foreclosure sale publication.
If you want to argue that Tennessee’s non-judicial foreclosure system favors lenders, that’s a different argument (but, let’s be sure to discuss the problems with the judicial-only process in Florida as part of that debate).
But, if your argument is that more newspaper notices are the last line of defense for the “devastation–financial and otherwise–that financially strapped families” face, well…I’d save that newspaper space for advertisements.