Mortgage law

A mortgage is a legal instrument which is used to create a security interest in real property held by a lender as a security for a debt, usually a loan of money. A mortgage in itself is not a debt, it is the lender's security for a debt. It is a transfer of an interest in land (or the equivalent) from the owner to the mortgage lender, on the condition that this interest will be returned to the owner when the terms of the mortgage have been satisfied or performed. In other words, the mortgage is a security for the loan that the lender makes to the borrower.

Legal systems in different countries, while having some concepts in common, employ different terminology. However, in general, a mortgage of property involves the following parties. The borrower, known as the mortgagor, gives the mortgage to the lender, known as the mortgagee.

A mortgagor is the borrower in a mortgage—he owes the obligation secured by the mortgage. Generally, the borrower must meet the conditions of the underlying loan or other obligation in order to redeem the mortgage. If the borrower fails to meet these conditions, the mortgagee may foreclose to recover the outstanding loan. Typically the borrowers will be the individual homeowners, landlords, or businesses who are purchasing their property by way of a loan.

The debt was absolute in form, and unlike a gage was not conditionally dependent on its repayment solely from raising and selling crops or livestock or simply giving the crops and livestock raised on the gaged land. The mortgage debt remained in effect whether or not the land could successfully produce enough income to repay the debt. In theory, a mortgage required no further steps to be taken by the lender, such as acceptance of crops and livestock in repayment.

This arrangement, whereby the lender was in theory the absolute owner, but in practice had few of the practical rights of ownership, was seen in many jurisdictions as being awkwardly artificial. By statute the common law's position was altered so that the mortgagor (borrower) would retain ownership, but the mortgagee's (lender's) rights, such as foreclosure, the power of sale, and the right to take possession, would be protected. In the United States, those states that have reformed the nature of mortgages in this way are known as lien states. A similar effect was achieved in England and Wales by the Law of Property Act 1925, which abolished mortgages by the conveyance of a fee simple.

Mortgages may be legal or equitable. Furthermore, a mortgage may take one of a number of different legal structures, the availability of which will depend on the jurisdiction under which the mortgage is made. Common law jurisdictions have evolved two main forms of mortgage: the mortgage by demise and the mortgage by legal charge.

To protect the lender, a mortgage by legal charge is usually recorded in a public register. Since mortgage debt is often the largest debt owed by the debtor, banks and other mortgage lenders run title searches of the real estate property to make certain that there are no mortgages already registered on the debtor's property which might have higher priority. Tax liens, in some cases, will come ahead of mortgages. For this reason, if a borrower has delinquent property taxes, the bank will often pay them to prevent the lienholder from foreclosing and wiping out the mortgage.

In an equitable mortgage the lender is secured by taking possession of all the original title documents of the property and by borrower's signing a Memorandum of Deposit of Title Deed (MODTD). This document is an undertaking by the borrower that he/she has deposited the title documents with the bank with his own wish and will, in order to secure the financing obtained from the bank. Certain transactions are recognized therefore as mortgages by equity, which are not so recognized by common law.

 

 


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