California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law today the Homeowner Bill of Rights to help struggling Californians keep their homes. This law aims to avoid foreclosure where possible to help stabilize California's housing market and prevent the other negative effects of foreclosures on families, communities, and the economy. The new law will generally prohibit lenders from engaging in dual tracking, require a single point of contact for borrowers seeking foreclosure prevention alternatives, provide borrowers with certain safeguards during the foreclosure process, and provide borrowers with the right to sue lenders for material violations of this law.
The Homeowner Bill of Rights has four major components:
Prohibiting “dual track” foreclosures that occur when a servicer continues foreclosure while also reviewing a homeowner’s application for a loan modification;Creating a single point of contact for homeowners who are negotiating a loan modification;
Expanding notice requirements that must be provided to a borrower before taking action on a loan modification application or pursuing foreclosure; andAllowing injunctions against foreclosure until violations are corrected and permitting civil penalties against servicers that file multiple, inaccurate mortgage documents or commit reckless or willful violations of law.
These new laws make California the first state in the nation to take provisions in the National Mortgage Settlement, which covered the nation’s five largest mortgage loan servicers, and apply those rules to all mortgage servicers.
C.A.R. opposed this well-intentioned legislation because it will encourage the filing of lawsuits intended for delay and further discourage lending.
While C.A.R. is disappointed in the final outcome, the good news is that what has passed is a much-improved version of the package of bills initially sponsored by the Attorney General, which would have originally halted ALL foreclosures, drying up both REO inventory and even short sales.
C.A.R. will continue to fight for the thoughtful, balanced reform of the foreclosure process. For example, C.A.R. is sponsoring AB 1745 (Torres) which prohibits “dual tracking” to prevent lenders from selling a property at a foreclosure sale if a short sale has already been approved. C.A.R. has also worked cooperatively with the Attorney General on several of the bills in her “bill of rights.”
The law will go into effect January 1, 2013. For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html.