Thursday, August 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Homeowner Bill of Rights not likely to help with expensive mortgage

By
From page C2 | December 08, 2012 |

Q:  I’ve read with interest that there is a new law slated to go into effect in California titled The California Homeowner Bill of Rights. I’m struggling under a very expensive mortgage and I’m wondering if this new law, or set of laws, would be of any help to me.

A:  Well, my short answer ranges from “probably not” to “no.”

I’m afraid that the new Homeowner Bill of Rights has more to do with election year politics than it does with providing real help for homeowners.

The public face of the bill is Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, and the bill ultimately passed both houses with the votes split right down party lines before the November election.

Remember as we go through the bill that this is a California law, not a federal law. In other words, if the law affects anyone, it only affects Californians and, perhaps businesses that do business in California.

The banner provisions of the law address four distinct issues.

The first is a prohibition on banks from engaging in what has become known as “dual tracking.”

Dual tracking occurs when the homeowner is in the process of applying for a loan modification. During the application process, the homeowner often assumes the foreclosure process is on hold.

It’s not.

As a general rule, the bank has often already handed your file to their foreclosure department, where it has been put on the “intake” end of the conveyor belt. When it gets to the other end the home is lost, regardless of where the homeowner is in the loan modification process.

To make matters worse, lenders will tell homeowners who are trying to stay current on their payments that they must stop making payments before the bank will talk with them. That puts the homeowner on the road to a foreclosure despite the fact they were willing to pay their mortgage.

The new law is designed to stop lenders from dual tracking.

In theory, if the homeowner applies for a modification, the foreclosure process must stop while the lender considers the modification.

For reasons I’ll explain in a moment, I’m skeptical of how valuable this provision of the law really will be.

Next is the requirement that homeowners seeking a modification be assigned a “single point of contact” within the bank.

The law seeks to mandate that the bank give the homeowner the name and contact information of a person who will be required to remain current on the progress of the individual homeowner’s application.

The last two flagship provisions prohibit the infamous “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents and give the homeowner the right to sue in court for fraudulent foreclosure.

While consumers may find these sections exciting, the truth is that robo-signing has never been much of a problem here in California since we do our foreclosures very differently than the rest of the country.

Likewise, homeowners have always had the right to sue for fraudulent anything! That includes a fraudulent attempt to foreclose on a property.

The remainder of the law just extends a number of existing laws that were set to expire at the end of this year.

Laws that have been in place for several years – such as the amount of notice a new owner must give to an existing tenant following a foreclosure and the right of a city to fine new owners for blight prevention – are now extended another year.

The major problem I see with the dual tracking and single-contact provisions is that we have a state law trying to change the way nationally regulated banks do business.

Yes, if a bank dual tracks and the homeowner is on the verge of foreclosure, the homeowner may be able to go into their local state court and get an order stopping the sale.

But as a practicing attorney, I have trouble believing that a vast majority of people would pay the money to hire an attorney to file the necessary paperwork and appear in court on this issue. That’s especially true when you figure the house is likely way underwater regardless and the one thing the homeowner probably doesn’t have an extra amount of is cash.

That applies even more strongly to the single contact provision.

So you’re applying for a modification and they keep giving you the runaround, are you really going to pony up $10,000 or more to pursue some remedy in court, only to have the bank deny your modification at the end anyway?

These laws don’t make the banks’ conduct criminal. The laws are strictly a civil issue which only really helps people who are willing and able to press their rights in court.

Almost two years ago, we saw California enact new laws dealing with banks and short sales.

They are great consumer protection laws, but we’ve seen banks flaunting many of their obligations under the laws ever since.

Again, laws are only as good as the willingness and ability of people to use them. It remains to be seen what, if any, affect the new laws will have on California’s distressed homeowners.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have any real estate questions you would like to have answered in this column you can contact him at SolanoScene@TJones-Law.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Locke an unparalleled universe in the Delta

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Small-town heroism on display in Napa

By Angela Borchert | From Page: A2

 
 
Review set for Vacaville fitness center suit

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield motorcyclist hurt in Beck Avenue crash

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Logue misses meet with Libertarians in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

Chamber event looks at health care law

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

Winterhawk Winery up for auction

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B5 | Gallery

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

.

US / World

Boy hurt in California quake: ‘I should be dead’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Lawmakers approve groundwater management bill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California sets ride-sharing insurance standards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Feds allow logging after huge California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California beach town sees flooding from hurricane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California Senate passes gun restraining order

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US to consider spousal abuse in immigration claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
UK sex abuse report prompts outrage, reflection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Dad acquitted in slaying of driver who killed sons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Q&A: Few laws govern children at shooting range

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Mom pleads for release of captive US journalist

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Israeli premier, Hamas declare victory in Gaza war

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Q-and-A on Westerners who join the fight in Syria

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Sources: US considering new relief mission in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Shooting by 9-year-old girl stirs debate over guns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
.

Opinion

Let’s improve entertainment control units

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
Seizing the day with old friends

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11

Signs of possible healing in Ferguson

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

 
Poor constituent service no longer acceptable

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11

 
Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 28, 2014

By Kim Durbin | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Aug. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My boss insists that we all eat lunch with her in cafeteria

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Aug. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Chris Soules is ABC’s new ‘Bachelor’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

John Lennon’s killer sorry for being ‘an idiot’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Reality star accused of rape, child molestation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Source: BET suspends producer after Blue Ivy joke

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Judge lets ‘X-Men’ director’s accuser drop lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Rapper Young Jeezy pleads not guilty to gun charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
‘Cops’ crew member killed in Omaha police shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Maria Sharapova comes through in 3 sets at US Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr to start vs. Seahawks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Fuld’s homer in 9th lifts A’s over Astros 5-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Posey hits game-ending 2-run homer for Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Keenum, Savage to settle Texans’ backup QB duel vs. 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

USC’s Shaw admits to lying about injuries, rescue

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
IndyCar sets April 12 New Orleans date

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

No. 23 UNC suspends 4 players for opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Clippers sign Doc Rivers to 5-year extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Cal needs more from its running game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Stanford’s Kevin Hogan a ‘stabilizing agent’ at QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Chicago’s Little League champs return as heroes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
NFL suspends Browns star WR Gordon for 2014 season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders hope rebuild pays immediate dividends

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
After trio of near misses, 49ers chase Super Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

US economy forecast to grow by 1.5 percent in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Reports: FBI probes JPMorgan hack

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Time Warner Cable says outages largely resolved

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Video games come of age as spectator sport

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Malaysia Airlines set for shakeup after disasters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
IMF chief Lagarde under investigation in France

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

SEC adopts rules on loan-backed securities

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Stocks drift higher; S&P 500 holds on to 2,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

Gary Allen Person

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Fernanda Dee Villarosa

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Herman P. Sorensen

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Lyle R.C. Cullum

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Frank W. Moy Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9