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Idaho Supreme Court Rejects Foreclosure Victims' Bid for Value of Improvements - Indian Springs v. Andersen

September 26, 2012

Vincent Howard and our team of Ontario foreclosure defense lawyers hear a lot of personal stories from clients trying to avoid foreclosure. One of the many personal and financial reasons that foreclosure is so difficult is that the homeowners lose every dollar they sunk into the property. That includes mortgage payments, but frequently also includes improvements like remodeling or adding a room. Under the law, foreclosed homeowners are not entitled to any compensation. In Indian Springs v. Andersen, Terry and Rosanna Andersen, and Everett and Margie Ells, challenged that situation as part of their opposition to an eviction case. The Idaho high court ultimately upheld their ejection as well as the dismissal of their counterclaims for unjust enrichment.

The Andersens bought a piece of property in 1996 and eventually took out two mortgage. They and their living trust eventually stopped making payments, triggering a foreclosure in 2001 and a subsequent bankruptcy filing. The bankruptcy court eventually granted possession to the mortgagees, and they signed it over to Indian Springs Land Investment LLC, which successfully sued for foreclosure, then bought the property at auction. In 2009. Indian Springs sought to evict the Andersens (and Mrs. Andersen's parents) from the property. After the eviction, which is a landlord-tenant proceeding in Idaho, was changed to ejectment, the court granted ejectment to Indian Springs. The Andersens filed counterclaims for unjust enrichment and conversion, but the court dismissed them with prejudice, finding no evidence that the Andersens had conferred any benefit on the property.

On appeal, the Andersens challenged the rejection of the unjust enrichment claim, alleging that they made permanent improvements and took care of the land from 1996 to 2009. The trial court had ruled that the Andersens failed to show that they conferred any benefit onto Indian Springs, and thus had no claim for unjust enrichment. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed that ruling. Improvements to a property made before foreclosure do not give rise to an unjust enrichment claim, and no evidence shows they made improvements after the foreclosure sale. It went on to dismiss several arguments raised by the pro se Andersens, as either irrelevant or never raised before the appeal. Finally, the high court awarded attorney fees to Indian Springs, saying they were appropriate even for a pro se appellant because the appeal was brought frivolously, raising only waived issues and making assertions without support.

At Howard Law, P.C., we sympathize with people fighting foreclosures because defending such people is much of what we do. Representing yourself might seem like the financially savvy move, but as this appeal shows, there are dangers to not using an experienced Moreno Valley foreclosure defense lawyer. In this case, the Andersens not only lost their appeal, but were ordered to pay the attorney fees for Indian Springs because their appeal was deemed frivolous. They may have had good arguments, but they weren't able to make them properly and thus, the arguments were often never considered. Vincent Howard and our Newport Beach foreclosure defense attorneys have the experience necessary to ensure that our clients get the full and fair hearings they deserve.

If you're facing foreclosure because of predatory lending or other unfairness by the lender and you'd like to talk with an experienced attorney, don't hesitate to call Vincent Howard and the team at Howard Law, P.C. You can reach us through our website or call 1-800-872-5925.

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