Homeowner rights topic of seminar

WHITTIER - A seminar on the "Homeowner Bill of Rights" will be held Sept. 12 from 6-8 p.m. at the Whittier Community Center in Whittier.Representatives from the California Department of Justice, Keep Your Home California and the California Independent Monitor Program will be on-hand to provide up-to-date information about new legislation and the mortgage crisis that could help homeowners save their property from foreclosure. The Homeowner Bill of Rights (AB 278) was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in July and prohibits a series of "inherently unfair bank practices that have needlessly forced thousands of Californians into foreclosure," said attorney general Kamala Harris. The law restricts dual-track foreclosures, where a lender forecloses on a borrower despite being in discussions over a loan modification to save the home. It also guarantees struggling homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers, and imposes civil penalties on fraudulently signed mortgage documents. In addition, homeowners may require loan servicers to document their right to foreclose. The laws will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, and borrowers can access courts to enforce their rights under this legislation. The Homeowner Bill of Rights builds upon and extends reforms first negotiated in the recent national mortgage settlement between 49 states and leading lenders. Harris secured up to $18 billion for California homeowners in that agreement, and has also built a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force to investigate crime and fraud associated with mortgages and foreclosures. "The California Homeowner Bill of Rights will give struggling homeowners a fighting shot to keep their home," said Harris. "This legislation will make the mortgage and foreclosure process more fair and transparent, which will benefit homeowners, their community, and the housing market as a whole." Brown said California residents "should not have to suffer the abusive tactics of those who would push foreclosure behind the back of an unsuspecting homeowner." "These new rules make the foreclosure process more transparent so that loan servicers cannot promise one thing while doing the exact opposite," he added. The California Homeowner Bill of Rights also contains a variety of bills outside of the conference committee process. These will enhance law enforcement responses to mortgage and foreclosure-related crime, in part by empowering the Attorney General to call a grand jury in response to financial crimes spanning multiple jurisdictions, officials said. Additional elements are intended to help communities fight blight related to foreclosure, and provide enhanced protections for tenants in foreclosed homes. The California Homeowner Bill of Rights was introduced February 29, 2012 at a press conference featuring Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and bill authors from the Assembly and Senate. The Whittier Community Center is at 7630 Washington Ave. in Whittier.

********** Published: August 30, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 20