Attorney General for Hardest Hit State Outlines Homeowner Bill of Rights

Attorney General for Hardest Hit State Outlines Homeowner Bill of Rights 02/29/2012 BY: ESTHER CHO  California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris outlined the six parts in the proposed California Homeowner Bill of Rights during a press conference on Wednesday.

The first part of the bill the California AG announced was the Foreclosure Reduction Act of 2012, which will address dual tracking issues. Dual tracking is when a homeowner is pursuing a modification while also in the foreclosure process. Harris said that the act will require creditors to establish rights of foreclosure and provide homeowners with notice of various stages of default and sale so homeowners will know what is happening with the roof over their head. Among a list of other provisions, the act will also forbid servicers from recording a notice of default and a notice of sale if a modification application has been filled out or another loss mitigation effort is pending. Harris explained that the reforms are meaningful because they reflect in large part terms negotiated through the national settlement, and the national settlement expands the course of 3 years only – so it would not be permanent reform. The Due Process Reform Legislation requires a single point of contact for homeowners. Among other requirements in the act is a $10,000 civil penalty for “robosigned” documents. The Blight Prevention Legislation, which Harris said will allow and empower communities to tackle issue of abandoned homes, includes fines against owners of blighted property from $1,000 to $5,000 per day. The act will also allow new purchasers 60 days to make repairs for properties before action is taken. The Tenants Protection Act will pause any possible eviction of a tenant who is living in a foreclosed home and will give tenants 90 days notice before enforcing evictions. The act also requires that the terms of the existing list be honored. The Enhancement of Attorney General Enforcement act will create a real estate fraud prosecution trust fund by levying a $25 fee each time servicers record a notice of default. The funds will be used towards efforts in deterring, investigating, and prosecuting mortgage fraud crimes. The Attorney General Special Grand Jury act was the last one in the package announced, and it will create a special grand jury to investigate crimes across all counties in the state to make it easier to indict multi-jurisdictional crimes. The AG was joined by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez. During the conference, Harris was asked who or what will be the greatest obstacle in getting the bill passed. Harris said banks will be really high on that list if not number one. Darrell emphasized the need “to push, fight, and negotiate” to get the bills passed. According to a release from the AG’s office, the bill is expected to generate $18 billion in benefits for California homeowners.