Cornegy Ramps Up Pressure On Cuomo To Sign Foreclosure Bill


City Council Member Robert E. Cornegy Jr. (D-Bedford-Stuyvesant, Northern Crown Heights) is ramping up the pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill (A.5619/S.5160) that would enhance a suite of legislation, known as the “Deed Theft Bill” (S1668), that passed in August.

Created by Senator Brian Kavanagh (D-Northern Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan) and Assembly Member Helene E. Weinstein (D-Flatlands, Sheepshead Bay), the bill would allow more room for defendants to raise the issue of whether a plaintiff has “a lack of standing” to foreclose in court.

The measure comes as there is growing concern and complaints from people who are facing foreclosure that plaintiffs can seek to gain properties in court without being vetted themselves. 

City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr
Helene Weinstein
Assemblymember Helene Weinstein
State Senator Brian P. Kavanagh

Cornegy sent a letter on Oct. 21 to Cuomo’s office with 26 signatures of fellow council members, imploring him to sign the bill.

Additionally, Kavanagh and Weinstein’s bill aims to enhance protections for defendants in foreclosure court and close a legal loophole.

In the past, New York court decisions have held that if the defendant does not raise the issue of “a lack of standing” upon the initial foreclosure action, the “defense of standing is waived” and the defendant loses the ability to raise the issue again, according to Cornegy’s letter to Cuomo.

Without the clarification proposed in A.5619/S.5160, “mortgagees will continue to be able to foreclose solely because an otherwise viable standing defense was not timely raised,” the letter states.

“It seems like an arcane rule,” said Cornegy Spokesperson and Legislative Aid Edward Amador. “We just want to make sure that if there are questions about who owns the deed to the property, that the homeowner is able to raise that later on in the judicial process, because they might not know what bank owns it or what shady unscrupulous actor might, or they might not even know that they don’t own it themselves.”

The bill supplements protections provided through the recently passed law package known as the “Deed Theft Bill.”

Senator Velmanette Montgomery photographed by tracy collins
Senator Velmanette Montgomery

The “Deed Theft Bill,” co-authored by Weinstein and State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Fort Greene, Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope),  clenches down on predatory practices by fraudulent actors, who often target seniors and financially-struggling home-owners in Central Brooklyn.

When Cuomo signed the bill package in August, he had left this piece of legislation out, according to Amador.

Amador said he doesn’t know why the governor didn’t sign it.

Cuomo’s office did not return KCP inquires for comment at post time.