Larry and Cheryle Jesinoski refinanced their home in Eagan, Minnesota on February 23, 2007, by borrowing $611,000 from Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. The borrowers received a Truth-in-Lending Act (“TILA”) disclosure and a Notice of Right to Cancel at the closing.
TILA allows a borrower to rescind a refinance loan on the borrower’s home within three days of the transaction, or until the lender has delivered the required number of disclosures. But there is a three-year time limit even if the lender still hasn’t provided the necessary loan disclosure documents.
Exactly three years after the closing, the Jesinoskis sent the lender written notice that they wanted to rescind, saying they hadn’t received the required number of copies of the notice. The property was underwater at the time. The lender refused to cancel the mortgage, and the Jesinoskis sued.
On January 13, 2015, the Court ruled unanimously in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, that the borrowers need only notify the lender of the intent to rescind. The Court rejected the lender’s position that the borrower must take the additional step of filing suit within three years.
This issue is one that has arisen frequently in recent years with borrowers who are in default and facing foreclosure, and this case settles a split in lower courts over steps borrowers must take within the time limit.
The lending industry had supported the lender in this case, indicating the Jesinoskis’ position could cloud titles to properties and require lenders to sue borrowers instead of trying to work with them. Consumer groups had supported the Minnesota couple, indicating the right to rescind is an important protection for consumers against abusive lending practices.
The case was remanded to the Eighth Circuit for further proceedings. The ruling does not mean the borrowers will escape paying their mortgage, but this lawsuit has delayed the inevitable for many years. It is possible that the property is no longer underwater and that the borrowers may be able to refinance in this improving economy.