Maine Legislative Update

Maine Legislative Update

The Maine legislature recently enacted legislation governing municipalities and foreclosure and expedited foreclosure for mobile homes as well as amended its foreclosure laws to create transparency in the foreclosure process.  The legislation is effective September 15, 2015.

 

MAINE LEGISLATIVE DOCUMENT 891/HOUSE PAPER 610

 

“Mobile home” means a structure, transportable in or more sections, which:

  • Is 8 body feet or more in width and 32 body feet or more in length;
  • Is built on a permanent chassis;
  • Is designed to be used as a dwelling with or without a permanent foundation when connected to the required utilities; and
  • Includes the plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electrical systems contained in the structure.

 

“Property defect” means a condition that, in the judgment of the municipality, contributes to blight as a result of the continued lack of care, maintenance or security of a property.

 

“Responsible party” includes the owner or owners of record for a mobile home, not including a lender.

The municipal officers or their designees may regulate the care, maintenance, and security of a mobile home determined to be abandoned if the responsible parties fail to address the property defects after notice and an opportunity to comply, and the municipality may recover its costs from the responsible parties.  This authority may not be construed to replace or supplant any municipal authority to provide for basic necessities or address dangerous buildings.  Municipal action under this section may not be interpreted to bestow any responsibility on the municipality to safeguard or otherwise preserve or protect an abandoned mobile home.  A municipality is authorized to take corrective action, up to and including taking possession of and disposing of an abandoned mobile home and all related personal property.

 

When initiating a foreclosure action on a property, a foreclosing lender must notify the municipality where the property is situated and designate an in-state representative responsible for responding to municipal inquiries regarding the property.  The foreclosing lender must provide the municipality where the property is located with the contact information for the lender’s in-state representative.  “Contact information” means both a mailing address and a direct telephone number with a functioning voice mailbox, as well as the in-state representative’s direct e-mail address when available.

 

Before a municipality may initiate corrective measures to address property defects, either a court or the municipal officers must have determined that the mobile home has been abandoned according to the evidence of abandonment.  The municipal officers must provide notice to the responsible party and hold a hearing before making a determination that a mobile home has been abandoned.  The notice of hearing must:

  • State the scheduled date, time, and location of the hearing; and
  • Inform the responsible party that, upon a finding of abandonment, the municipality may require the responsible party to correct any property defects within 60 days of issuing a notice to correct.

 

A hearing must be held not less than 7 days after receipt or publication of the notice.

 

An order issued by the municipality determining that a mobile home is abandoned may be combined with the notice to correct.

 

Upon a finding of abandonment, the municipal officers may give written notice to the responsible party to correct the property defect.  The municipal notice to correct must:

  • Identify the property defect;
  • State the municipality’s intention to take appropriate preventive or corrective measures to address the property defect;
  • Identify the measures the municipality will take if the responsible party has not remedied the property defect identified within 60 days of the notice to correct;
  • State the municipality’s intention to subsequently recover the municipality’s direct, legal, and administrative costs from the responsible party;
  • Inform the responsible party of the responsible party’s ability to avert the municipality’s actions by remedying the property defect as identified in the notice; and
  • State the municipality’s intention to take possession of and dispose of the mobile home and all related personal property if the responsible party has not remedied the property defect identified within 60 days of the notice to correct.

 

A required notice is governed by the following:

  • Notice must be hand-delivered or mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the responsible party.  Notice is sufficient if the signed receipt is returned or the certified mail is returned as refused by the recipient.
  • If the name or address of the responsible party cannot be determined with reasonable diligence, or notice was otherwise not successful, the notice must be published twice consecutively in a daily or weekly newspaper having general circulation in the municipality in which the mobile home is located.

 

A responsible party is jointly and severally liable to a municipality for its direct, legal and administrative costs incurred while remedying or attempting to remedy the property defect. The responsible party must reimburse the municipality for its costs within 30 days after demand, or a special tax may be assessed against the property in the amount of those costs and may be collected in the same manner as other state, county and municipal taxes are collected.

 

MAINE LEGISLATIVE DOCUMENT 846/HOUSE PAPER 580

 

The court will schedule an expedited final hearing if a lender in a foreclosure action files with the clerk a request for an expedited final hearing on a form prescribed by the Supreme Judicial Court indicating:

  • That mediation did not result in the settlement or dismissal of the action and that all of the borrowers and all of the parties in interest who have appeared in the action have consented to an expedited final hearing; or
  • That the borrower has not filed an answer to the complaint and that all of the parties who have filed an answer in the action have consented to an expedited final hearing.

 

The request for expedited final hearing must be accompanied by a consent form, as prescribed by the Supreme Judicial Court, that informs borrowers that they may consult with an attorney or a housing counselor before consenting to an expedited hearing.  For a request for an expedited final hearing when the mediation did not result in a settlement or dismissal, the consent form must be signed by all of the borrowers and all of the parties in interest who have appeared in the action.  For a request for an expedited final hearing when the borrower has not filed an answer, the consent form must be signed by all of the parties who have appeared in the action and all of the parties who have filed an answer in the action.

 

The court, upon receiving a request for an expedited final hearing, will as the interests of justice permit, set the expedited final hearing not less than 45 days after the request is filed.

 

After the expedited final hearing, the court will issue a written judgment of foreclosure, dismissal with or without prejudice or judgment for the borrower as expeditiously as the interests of justice permit.

 

MAINE LEGISLATIVE DOCUMENT 401/HOUSE PAPER 267

 

In order to state a claim for foreclosure upon which relief can be granted, the complaint must contain a certification of proof of ownership of the mortgage note.