May 29, 2015
California Homeowner Bill of Rights - What You Should Know
in California Real Estate
On January 1, 2013 the California Homeowner Bill of Rights was enacted into law.
The California Homeowner Bill of Rights is an important piece of legislation for you as a a homeowner facing possible foreclosure, and it's in your benefit to understand exactly what the bill sets out to do and what it accomplishes for you.
According to the Attorney General's office, the purpose of the bill is to "guarantee basic fairness and transparency for homeowners in the foreclosure process." The bill is a reaction to the increasingly aggressive (and sometimes shady) actions taken by lenders to secure a foreclosure at all costs with little to no regard for the home's inhabitants themselves.
Let's take a look at each new protection the CA Homeowner Bill of Rights grants to you as someone involved in the foreclosure process.
- Restriction on dual-track foreclosure: Lenders cannot continue moving forward with the foreclosure process if you are in the midst of securing a loan modification. The completed application must be received and reviewed before the mortgage servicer is allowed to continue attempting to foreclose on the property. This makes a loan modification an even more viable option to avoid -- or at the very least, delay -- foreclosure.
- Guaranteed single point of contact: In the past, homeowners in the foreclosure process could be bounced around from agent to agent, getting lost in the system as they desperately attempted to inform each new bank employee about the specifics of their case. Under the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, you are now guaranteed a "single point of contact" -- that is, one designated person or team at the lender who is familiar with your situation and can continually monitor your potential loan modification.
- Verification of documents: All documents must be verified before being filed, period. In fact, the Attorney General's office was so adamant about including this in the California Homeowner Bill of Rights that a lender can be fined up to $7,500 per loan for filing an unverified document. This ensures that all documentation pertaining to your loan is valid, legitimate, and independently verified.
- Enforceability: This is one of the most important aspects of the Homeowner Bill of Rights California, and it's where JT Legal Group comes into play to help protect you further. The enforceability clause of the bill states that you can seek injunctive relief via litigation prior to being foreclosed upon if a lender breaks any of the rules stated in the bill. Additionally, if the sale is already completed and the lender is found to have violated the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, you are entitled to seek recovery of damages. If your lender has acted in bad faith or violated any part of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights during your foreclosure process, you should contact JT Legal Group immediately to seek injunctive relief.
- Tenant rights: Simply put, the purchaser of your foreclosed home needs to give you at least 90 days before beginning eviction proceedings. Additionally, if you have a fixed-term lease entered into before transfer of title at the foreclosure sale, the owner must honor that lease (unless the owner can "prove that exceptions intended to prevent fraudulent leases apply").
- Tools to prosecute mortgage fraud: Previously, the statute of limitations on prosecuting mortgage-related fraud was just one year. Fraudulent mortgage schemes are often quite complex and require more time to adequately investigate and review for potential indictment, meaning that shady lenders often got off the hook by sheer virtue of the complexity of their crime. Under the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, however, the statute of limitations to prosecute these illegal activities has been increased to three years.
- Tools to curb blight: In order to prevent neighborhoods from becoming blighted due to multiple vacant houses, governments are given new options under the California Homeowner Bill of Rights to avoid blight. This includes giving homeowners more time to fix code violations, as well as providing them with additional options to help pay for those repairs and alterations.
As you can see, if you are currently going through the foreclosure process, you now have additional rights and options. Not only that, but if you feel that your lender is acting in bad faith or violating any of the components of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, you now have the ability to file suit against them for injunctive relief or damages.
If you feel that you are (or were in the past) a victim of unfair practices during your foreclosure process, you should contact JT Legal Group immediately. You can get a free consultation with us at 1-888-529-3111, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Contact Us page.
-- Armine Singh, Esq.
Source: California Homeowner Bill of Rights (http://oag.ca.gov/hbor)
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