Mayor Lee’s on California Homeowners Bill of Rights to protect families against foreclosures

Mayor Edwin M. Lee today expressed his strong support for California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ California Homeowners Bill of Rights and urged members of the State Assembly Banking and Finance Committee to support Attorney General Harris’s package of foreclosure reform bills including support for AB 1602, a bill to end “dual tracking” foreclosures by preventing banks from foreclosing on a borrower’s home while the borrower is in the process of negotiating a loan modification, being heard today:

“Too many San Franciscans have been devastated by the mortgage crisis and too many families have lost their homes due to deceiving banking practices right here in some of our most vulnerable communities. Thousands of foreclosures have happened and are happening in neighborhoods in our cities. I applaud the leadership of Attorney General Kamala Harris for standing up for families and using the powers of her office to protect homeowners from mortgage fraud and abuse.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights is designed to protect homeowners from unfair practices by banks and mortgage companies, and I urge the State legislature to do the right thing to protect families.”

Since 2008, there have been 3,181 foreclosures in San Francisco, according to the Assessor-Recorder’s Office, with the highest concentration in low-income neighborhoods such as Hunter’s Point, Bayview, the Excelsior, the Outer Mission and Bernal Heights. San Francisco conducted the first comprehensive audit of county land records. The audit conducted by Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting and released in February shows that 84 percent of sampled foreclosures contain at least one clear violation of California’s foreclosure laws.

Mayor Lee joined Attorney General Harris in support of the foreclosure reform package aimed to protect families in distress. This comes just weeks after Attorney General Harris won California the lion’s share of a $26 billion multistate settlement with big banks over foreclosure abuses.

The California Homeowners Bill of Rights consists of six bills designed to guarantee basic standards of fairness in the mortgage process, including an end to dual-track foreclosures, an increase in transparency in the mortgage process, including a single point of contact for homeowners, community tools to prevent blight after banks foreclose upon homes, tenant protections after foreclosures, enhanced law enforcement to defend homeowner rights – paid for by fees imposed on banks and creation of a special grand jury to investigate financial and foreclosure crime.

California Homeowner Bill of Rights Legislative Package

Assembly Bill 1602 / Senate Bill 1470 – The Foreclosure Reduction Act of 2012
(Assemblymen Mike Eng and Mike Feuer; Senators Mark Leno, Fran Pavley, and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg)
· Require creditors to provide documentation to a borrower that establishes the creditor’s right to foreclose on real property prior to recording a notice of default.
· Require creditors to provide documentary evidence of ownership, the chain of title to real property, and the right to foreclose, at the time of the filing of a notice of default.
· Prohibit creditors from recording a notice of default when a timely-filed application for a loan modification or other loss mitigation measure is pending.
· Prohibit creditors from recording a notice of sale when a timely-filed application for a loan modification or other loss mitigation measure is pending.
· Prohibit creditors from recording a notice of sale while a borrower is in compliance with the terms of a trial loan modification or after another loss mitigation measure has been approved.
· Require creditors to disclose why an application for a loan modification or other loss mitigation measure has been denied.
· Require that notices of foreclosure sales be personally served, including notices of foreclosure sale postponement.
· Provide homeowners with a private right of action in instances in which the requirements set forth in the legislation are not followed

Assembly Bill 2425 / Senate Bill 1471 – Due Process Reform Legislation
(Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell; Senators Mark DeSaulnier and Fran Pavley)
· Require creditors to provide a single point of contact to borrowers in the foreclosure process who will be responsible for providing accurate account and other information related to the foreclosure process and loss mitigation efforts.
· Require creditors to provide a dedicated electronic mail address, facsimile number and mailing address for borrowers to submit information requested as part of a loan modification, short sale or other loss mitigation option.
· Authorize borrowers to challenge the unlawful commencement of a foreclosure process in court.
· Impose a $10,000 civil penalty on the recordation or filing of “robosigned” documents, defined as documents that contain information that was not verified for accuracy by the person or persons signing or swearing to the accuracy of the document or statement.
· Require that certain documents be recorded in a county recorder’s office.

Assembly Bill 2314 / Senate Bill 1472 – Blight Prevention Legislation
(Assemblywoman Wilmer Carter; Senator Fran Pavley)
· Prevent blight enforcement actions from being taken against new purchasers of blighted property for 60 days, provided that repairs are being made to the property.
· Require banks that release liens on foreclosed property to inform local code enforcement agencies of the release so that demolition of blighted property can proceed.
· Increase fines against owners of blighted property from $1,000 per day to $5,000 per day, and allow the imposition of the costs of a receivership over blighted property to be imposed directly against the owner of blighted property.

Assembly Bill 2610/ Senate Bill 1473 – Tenant Protection Legislation
(Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner; Senator Loni Hancock)
· Require purchasers of foreclosed homes to honor the terms of existing leases and give tenants at least 90 days notice before commencing eviction proceedings.

Assembly Bill 1950 – Enhancement of Attorney General Enforcement
(Assemblyman Mike Davis)
· mpose a new $25 fee to be paid by servicers upon the recording of a notice of default. The fee would be deposited into a real estate fraud prosecution trust fund that would support the Attorney General’s efforts to deter, investigate and prosecute real estate fraud crimes, including the work of the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force.
· Extend the statute of limitations from one year to four years from the date of discovery for violations of law commonly occurring in connection with foreclosure-related scams, including acting as a real-estate agent without a license and charging up-front fees for loan modification services.

Senate Bill 1474 / Assembly Bill 1763 – Attorney General Special Grand Jury
(Assemblyman Mike Davis; Senator Loni Hancock)
· Authorize the Attorney General to impanel a special grand jury for the purposes of investigating and indicting multi-jurisdictional financial crimes against the state.

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