• Feds Suing Chicago Over Controversial Ordinance

    The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is suing the city of Chicago over its ordinance making mortgage creditors liable for the upkeep of vacant properties, the Wall Street Journal reported on December 13, 2011. The city had revised the ordinance in November by dropping a provision that had defined creditors as property owners after lenders threatened to sue, but the changes were not enough to satisfy the FHFA.

    According to the journal, the agency said “the ordinance was unfair because it imposed all of the costs of ownership without any of the benefits, such as the right to sell or lease the property.” The lawsuit also says the ordinance oversteps federal law by subjecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to regulation that is the jurisdiction of the FHFA. The FHFA said that the $500 fee the ordinance requires mortgage owners to pay to register vacant properties and conduct monthly inspections of properties to determine if they are vacant “represents a tax” on Fannie and Freddie, according to the Journal.

    Nearly 1,900 vacant properties in Chicago are stuck in the foreclosure process at a cost of $36 million in upkeep costs borne by the city, according to an estimate from researchers at the nonprofit Woodstock Institute. Tom Feltner, vice president of the Woodstock Institute, told the Journal, “By in many cases ignoring these properties you’re doing a disservice to the community and a disservice to the investor.”

    What do you think of the Chicago ordinance? Do you think it will help either the people needing foreclosure help or the neighborhoods where the foreclosures are happening?

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyer

  • Famous Bankruptcies: Donald Trump

    “I don’t like the ‘b’ word,” Donald Trump said from the witness stand in a New Jersey bankruptcy courtroom in 2010. Oddly enough, it was during the third time that Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. was going through Chapter 11.

    “I never went bankrupt, and a lot of people did go bankrupt,” Trump told the congressional newspaper The Hill for a story published on December 6, 2011. Technically, “the Donald” has never filed for personal bankruptcy, but he has filed for corporate bankruptcy-four times, actually, between 1991 and 2009.

    This segment on celebrities who have filed bankruptcy was an idea that came from the way that financial problems were being used to try and discredit women accusing former presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual impropriety. Now that Trump himself is once again hinting at the possibility of running as an independent candidate, it only seems fair to ask why Trump does not receive the same type of scrutiny.

    Fortunately, the Wall Street Journal did just that when Trump was first grandstanding discussing running for the Republican nomination back in April. You can see his visible anger in regards to the bankruptcy issue when Kelly Evans asks why “someone who filed for bankruptcy multiple times” should be “running national finances at a time when we have a big debt problem” at the 3:30 mark in this video interview:

    Got that? Donald has used the laws of this country to negotiate corporate debt deals, but has never filed bankruptcy. During a December 7 interview with Neil Cavuto on the same Fox News network that Trump expressed admiration for in the above Journal interview, when the bankruptcy question was asked again, Trump again vehemently denied the charge and said it has been “so incorrectly reported, it’s amazing.” “I’ve opened up a wound here,” Cavuto said.

    Again, whether you simply need foreclosure help or have suddenly found your debt has gotten out of your control, you need to know that people on both ends of the financial spectrum have used bankruptcy court to get a fresh start. If you fear that filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will prevent you from ever getting “the ultimate job interview” on “The Apprentice,” keep in mind that the host of the program’s companies bearing his name have certainly been no stranger to that “b” word he supposedly dislikes so much.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyer