Update -- February 2012
Legislative Leaders Announce Homeowner’s Bill of Rights
Attorney General Kamala Harris, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez joined together today in Sacramento to announce the introduction of the California Homeowner's Bill of Rights. The joint legislative package is a result of investigations by the Attorney General's office into the home foreclosure crisis. It is designed to protect homeowners from unfair practices by banks and mortgage companies and to help consumers and communities cope with the state's urgent mortgage and foreclosure crisis.
The Homeowner's 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;
- 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 legal enforcement to defend homeowner rights - paid for by fees imposed on banks;
- A special grand jury to investigate financial and foreclosure crime.
The legislation builds on the Attorney General's efforts to ensure that Californians received their fair share of the National Mortgage Settlement - nearly $18 billion of benefits for California homeowners. Whereas the mortgage settlement applied to mortgages owned by the five banks that were signing parties, the Homeowner's Bill of Rights will strengthen those protections, make them permanent and apply them to all mortgages in the state.
"Millions of Californians have already lost their homes to foreclosure and the mortgage crisis is far from over," said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. "This landmark settlement negotiated by Attorney General Harris helps thousands of Californians, but thousands more need the same help. We need to put these protections into law so that more people can save their homes."
"I want to congratulate the Attorney General on the victory she won on behalf of the people of California," said Speaker John A. Pérez. "Our state has suffered greatly as the result of bad actors in the banking and financial industries, and this settlement holds them accountable as we continue the difficult work of recovering the housing market and stemming the tide of foreclosures, evictions and auctions."
- Senate President pro Tem's Press Release
- Video of the Press Conference
- National Mortgage Settlement Website
California, as well as the nation, is in the midst of one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression. As unemployment rises above 11 percent within the State, more and more homeowners are having difficulty making their mortgage payments. That difficulty is compounded by certain mortgage products that, pursuant to their design, result in a substantial increase in payment after several years. As a result of those and other factors, many homeowners now face payments beyond the level of what they can afford.
The above issues are compounded by a significant decline in property values, which has left many California homeowners owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Regardless of the initial cause of the default on a loan, the resulting foreclosure has significant impacts upon the surrounding home values, community, and for those with a financial interest in the loan itself.
To help those seeking foreclosure help, the California Senate Majority Caucus has compiled a list of helpful resources to get answers for your homeowner questions.
This website also has several tips for avoiding scams that have begun to torment vulnerable homeowners, as well as numbers to call if you believe you were a victim to crime.
You can also view recent legislation that your elected Majority Caucus Senators have been working on to aid homeowners in this economy by clicking the ‘legislation’ tab in the sidebar.