Homesquatters Bill of Rights
At least there will be rules – from the utsandiego.com:
Two key pieces of legislation in that package, widely called the “Homeowner Bill of Rights,” are expected to face sharp criticism from the real estate and financial sectors as the proposals head to a special hearing on Thursday, housing experts say.
The idea behind the bills package is to stem unnecessary foreclosures, which have hit certain parts of California especially hard. San Diego County has not been able to avert distress. Since 2007, more than 63,000 trustee deeds, which signal a foreclosure, have been filed in the county.
The two most polarizing proposals of the bills package would push banks to assign one point of contact for property owners per troubled-loan case, and end dual tracking, a practice in which lenders start the foreclosure process even though a borrower has applied for a loan modification, among other things.
Homeowner advocates like Norma Garcia, of the Consumers Union in the Bay Area, said both proposals would protect property owners “from unnecessary foreclosures and make sure the foreclosure process is a fair one and everyone plays by the rules.”
Several real estate groups, including the California Mortgage Association, say the proposed measures could stall the foreclosure process, further damaging an already weak housing market, and make way for frivolous legal claims, said Mike Belote, a spokesman for the statewide mortgage organization.
The dual-track and single-contact bills will head to a special legislative hearing on Thursday that will allow lawmakers to more thoroughly vet them. The remaining parts of the bill of rights, supported by the Attorney General’s Office and U.S. housing chief Shaun Donovan, are not expected to be controversial and are moving through the legislative process.
Here’s a breakdown of the bills involved in the bill of rights:
SB 1470: Prevents banks from starting the foreclosure process if homeowners have begun the process for a loan work-out, also called dual tracking. It would require servicers to make decisions on loan-modification applications in a more timely manner. The companion bill is AB 1602.
SB 1471: Requires servicers to streamline the foreclosure process by establishing a set of rules, including assigning a single point of contact for each case. It also calls for a $10,000 fine for any robo-signing incidents, in which banks sign off on loan paperwork without proper review. The companion bill is AB 2425.
SB 1472: Fights neighborhood blight, which happens when properties are not properly maintained after a foreclosure. It would allow cities to levy fines against homeowners who do not properly maintain their properties. This was unanimously approved by the Senate on Thursday. The companion bill is AB 2314.
SB 1473: Ensures renters of foreclosed properties are given at least 90 days before the eviction process is started. The companion bill is AB 2610.
AB 1950: Requires servicers to pay a $25 fee for each recorded notice of default, which kicks off the formal foreclosure process. The money collected would pay for state-run fraud probes.
SB 1464: Allows the state Attorney General to create a special grand jury to look into special financial crimes that involve several victims. The companion bill is AB 1763.