California Homeowner Bill of Rights Becomes Law
Update July 7, 2012: All eyes in the nation now turn to California as 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 following is a summary of the key provisions of the Homeowner Bill of Rights that may affect California’s REALTORS® and their clients. The full text of this law, also known as Assembly Bill 278 and Senate Bill 900, is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov
Applicability of the Law: This law will generally come into effect on January 1, 2013. It only pertains to first trust deeds secured by owner-occupied properties with one-to-four residential units, unless otherwise indicated below. “Owner-occupied” means the property is the principal residence of the borrower and secured by a loan made for personal, family, or household purposes (CC 2924.15). A “borrower” under this law must generally be a natural person and potentially eligible for a foreclosure prevention alternative program offered by the mortgage servicer, but not someone who has filed bankruptcy, surrendered the secured property, or contracted with an organization primarily engaged in the business of advising people how to extend the foreclosure process and avoid their contractual obligations (CC 2920.5(c)). A “foreclosure prevention alternative” is defined as a first lien loan modification or another available loss mitigation option, including short sales (CC 2920.5(b)). Some of the requirements of this law do not apply to “smaller banks” that, during the preceding annual reporting period, foreclosed on 175 or fewer properties with one-to-four residential units (CC 2924.18(b)).
No Dual Tracking During Short Sale: A mortgage servicer or lender cannot record a notice of default or notice of sale, or conduct a trustee’s sale, if a foreclosure prevention alternative has been approved in writing by all parties (e.g., first lien investor, junior lienholder, and mortgage insurer as applicable), and proof of funds or financing has been provided to the servicer. This requirement expires on January 1, 2018. Effective January 1, 2018, a lender or mortgage servicer cannot record a notice of sale or conduct a trustee’s sale if the borrower’s complete application for a foreclosure prevention alternative is pending, and until the borrower has been given a written determination by the mortgage servicer. Smaller banks are only covered by the requirements taking effect in 2018. CC 2924.11.
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