On December 16, the California Court of Appeal for the First Appellate District allowed borrowers who missed payments on their modified mortgage loan to reinstate the loan and avoid foreclosure by paying the amount in default under the terms of the modified loan, rather than the amount that would have been in default under the original loan terms. According to the court, the borrowers missed four monthly payments on their modified loan, which had deferred certain amounts due on the original loan (including principal). The loan-modification agreement stated that any future default would allow the lender to void the loan modification and enforce the original loan terms. According to the lender, in order to reinstate their account and avoid foreclosure, the borrowers would have to pay the amount that would have been past due on the original loan principal before the loan was modified, plus the four missed monthly payments, associated late charges, and fees and costs. The borrowers filed suit, alleging violations of California Civil Code §§ 2924c and 2953. Section 2924c overrides typical mortgage acceleration clauses to give the borrower the right to cure a default by paying the amount in default rather than the entire principal balance, plus specified fees and expenses. Section 2953 provides that the right of reinstatement created by § 2924c cannot be waived in “[a]ny express agreement made or entered into by a borrower at the time of or in connection with the making of or renewing of any loan secured by a deed of trust, mortgage, or other instrument creating a lien on real property.”
The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the lender. It held that the loan modification at issue was “appropriately viewed as the making or renewal of a loan secured by a deed of trust . . . and is thus subject to the anti-waiver provisions of Section 2953.” Therefore, the court held that the lender had failed to show that the borrowers “could not prevail on their claim” that the lender violated § 2924c and was accordingly not entitled to summary judgment, and remanded the matter to the trial court.