By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THREE former Millennium Gardens residents whose homes were repossessed last year by the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation were unsuccessful in petitioning the court for a reversal.
The residents were represented by Munroe & Associates. Lawyers from Wayne Munroe’s firm argued the BMC was statute-barred from repossessing the homes because it had waited beyond six years to enforce an order for repossession.
According to Shirl Deveaux, corporate lawyer for the BMC, the application was heard before Supreme Court Justice Diane Stewart on February 6. The judge dismissed the case and awarded costs of $1,800 to the BMC.
Ms Deveaux said: “The attorneys for the defendant failed to do their due diligence in searching whether necessary documents had been filed pursuant to the rules of the Supreme Court so their application was misconceived.”
Ms Deveaux said the BMC goes well beyond other lending institutions in giving leeway to people who fall behind in their arrears.
“The BMC works hand-in-hand with these people and it’s a very long time before the BMC would even seek to bring any sort of vacant possession proceedings against these persons,” she said. “Even when we appear in court we try to give as many adjournments as possible. Many times, BMC holds their hands, guiding them through the process, allowing them to make as minimal a mortgage as possible even if you could look at the loan and see they would never be able to pay it off.”
Nevertheless, Ms Deveaux said the BMC won’t pursue court-ordered costs against the defendants.
“We often don’t pressure or pursue costs when the court grants it to us because we understand most of the clients are of low to middle income and our aim is to assist them as much as possible,” she said. “If they are having difficulty paying the mortgage then even in a case like this where costs are awarded we won’t pursue it. At the same time, lawyers for the defendants were seeking costs from us in $7,500 and I’m certain they would’ve pursued those costs had they won.”
The two sides appeared to dispute what led to the summonses being dismissed. Ms Deveaux said lawyers for the residents withdrew the case after analysing the BMC’s submissions. However, Mr Munroe, who was not present for the hearing, suggested that while his side conceded the BMC filed its case before the limitation period expired, the judge herself considered the legal consequence of that and sided with the BMC.
“We are in fact considering an appeal,” he said.
Ms Deveaux said: “The period allowed for the enforcement of judgments is six years from the date that the order became enforceable. In this case, the order was issued on the 31st August 2011 and became enforceable 90 days thereafter on the 20th November 2011. “Accordingly, the limitation period would have expired on the 29th November 2017. The application for writ of possession in this case was filed in the Supreme Court Registry on the 22nd August 2017, well before the 29th November 2017. In any event, even if the clock is held to have started on the date that the order was made, the enforcement proceedings were commenced prior to 30th August 2017. Therefore, the enforcement proceedings would not have been statute barred.”
About ten homes were repossessed in the Millennium Gardens area last year after residents in some cases failed for years to pay their bills.