State Attorney General Kamala Harris has proven to be a friend to homeowners over the past few years, backing powerful legislation in response to the state’s foreclosure and mortgage crisis.
The Homeowner’s Bill of Rights was Harris’ third step in response to the crisis, preceded by 2011’s The Mortgage Fraud Strike Force and, in 2012, a commitment form the country’s top five banks to make up to $18 billion available to California borrows. The strike force investigates and prosecutes misconduct at all stages of the mortgage process.
Becoming official on January 1, 2013, the California Homeowner Bill of Rights ensures lending and borrowing practices for California homeowners. Fairness and transparency are the cornerstones.
It features several key provisions. One seemingly minor provision can make a huge difference for homeowners in trouble—the guaranteed single point of contact. Under this provision, homeowners are guaranteed a single point of contact as they navigate the system and try to keep their homes – a person or team at the bank who knows the facts of their case, has their paperwork and can get them a decision about their application for a loan modification.
Another provision that helps put homeowners on equal ground with lenders is the restriction on dual track foreclosure. This means that that mortgage servicers can’t advance the foreclosure process if the homeowner is working on securing a loan modification. And when a homeowner completes an application for a loan modification, its like hitting the pause button; the foreclosure process is essentially paused until the complete application has been fully reviewed.
Tenant rights get a boost from the bill of rights, which also makes enforcing exiting laws easier. Purchasers of foreclosed homes are required to give tenants at least 90 days before starting eviction proceedings. If the tenant has a fixed-term lease entered into before transfer of title at the foreclosure sale, the owner must honor the lease unless the owner can prove that exceptions intended to prevent fraudulent leases apply.
Finally, if a deceptive lender has defrauded you, the homeowner’s bill of rights gives the attorney general’s office more power (and time) to investigate and prosecute complex mortgage fraud crimes. It also extends the statute of limitations to prosecute mortgage-related crimes from just one year to three years.
These are just some of the many benefits to honest homeowners provided by California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights, which looks to have powerful, long-term benefits for homeowners in our state, who have suffered more than most during the mortgage crisis of the past few years.
At McFarlin LLP, we’ve carefully studied this new law and can offer guidance and insights to both homeowners facing foreclosure for any number of reasons, including the deceptive lending practices covered by the attorney general’s new law. Call McFarlin today for a consultation. We can help you understand and get the most benefit from California’s new Homeowner’s Bill of Rights.
Call us at (888) 728-0044 to learn more about ways in which the bill of rights can help you avoid foreclosure on your home.