Assemblyman JOHN S. WISNIEWSKI
District 19 (Middlesex)
Assemblyman GARY S. SCHAER
District 36 (Bergen, Essex and Passaic)
Assemblywoman L. GRACE SPENCER
District 29 (Essex and Union)
Assemblywoman Greenstein and Assemblyman Diegnan
Provides statute of limitations for residential mortgage foreclosures.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning certain mortgage foreclosures and supplementing P.L.1995, c.244 (C.2A:50-53 et seq.).
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey
1. An action to foreclose a residential mortgage shall not be commenced following the earliest of:
a. Six years from the date fixed for the making of the last payment or the maturity date set forth in the mortgage or the note, bond, or other obligation secured by the mortgage, whether the date is itself set forth or may be calculated from information contained in the mortgage or note, bond, or other obligation, except that if the date fixed for the making of the last payment or the maturity date has been extended by a written instrument, the action to foreclose shall not be commenced after six years from the extended date under the terms of the written instrument;
b. Thirty-six years from the date of recording of the mortgage, or, if the mortgage is not recorded, 36 years from the date of execution, so long as the mortgage itself does not provide for a period of repayment in excess of 30 years; or
c. Twenty years from the date on which the debtor defaulted, which default has not been cured, as to any of the obligations or covenants contained in the mortgage or in the note, bond, or other obligation secured by the mortgage, except that if the date to perform any of the obligations or covenants has been extended by a written instrument or payment on account has been made, the action to foreclose shall not be commenced after 20 years from the date on which the default or payment on account thereof occurred under the terms of the written instrument.
2. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill supplements the “Fair Foreclosure Act,” P.L.1995, c.244 (C.2A:50-53 et seq.) by applying a statute of limitations to residential mortgage foreclosure actions. The bill is intended to address some of the problems caused by the presence on the record of residential mortgages which have been paid or which are otherwise unenforceable. These mortgages constitute clouds on title which may render real property titles unmarketable and delay real estate transactions.
The bill provides that a foreclosure action must be commenced by the earliest of: (1) six years from the date of maturity on the mortgage or other obligation secured by the mortgage, matching the six-year statute of limitations on actions based on contract law; (2) 36 years from the date of recording or execution of the mortgage, provided the mortgage itself does not provide for a period of repayment in excess of 30 years, again relying upon the six-year statute of limitations for contract law; or (3) 20 years from the date of default by the debtor on the mortgage or other obligation secured by the mortgage, matching the 20-year statute of limitations on adverse possession actions. Thus, the bill allows a determination that certain mortgages are not clouds on title because a party can no longer bring an action to foreclose them beyond the bill’s expressly stated statute of limitations, as borrowed from actions in contract law or adverse possession, as applicable.
The bill, in part, codifies the holding in Security National Partners Limited Partnership v. Mahler, 336 N.J. Super. 101 (App. Div. 2000), which applied a 20-year statute of limitations to a residential mortgage foreclosure action based on a default due to nonpayment. In its decision, the court noted that since there is currently no statute of limitations expressly applicable to mortgage foreclosures in these situations, courts have resorted to drawing analogies to adverse possession statutes which bar rights of entry onto land after 20 years. This bill would resolve the uncertainties surrounding this area of law by providing a specific statute of limitations of 20 years from the date of the default by the debtor.