Wednesday, July 23, 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

Fairfield labor pact wins City Council OK

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 11 Comments | Gallery

 
 
 
Solano leaders feel left out of Delta decision-making

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3

Polk first to file for Fairfield council

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
 
Carpenters training center set to expand in Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 6 Comments | Gallery

Governor signs 2 bills by Frazier into law

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

 
Dally seeks to retain seat on Vacaville school board

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

2 Vacaville homes hit by gunfire

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
Library friends set spring book sale

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6

 
Video chair exercise class returns to senior center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

 
Man, woman, comic and dance contest primed for box office

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Rockville Trails hike on August calendar

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
 
Mayor’s Commission on Crime hears from community

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A12, 12 Comments | Gallery

.

US / World

Dueling rulings: Courts split on health law clash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Assailants sought in fatal train platform beating

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Senate, House on collision course on border money

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
ACLU may fight for California migrant shelter

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9, 1 Comment

IRS employee charged with identity theft

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Gaza blockade key to any Israel-Hamas truce deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Mexican-born professor eyed for state high court

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Airlines ban flights to Israel after rocket strike

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Board puts soda tax before San Francisco voters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

George Harrison memorial tree killed by beetles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

 
AP source: Thieves got into 1K StubHub accounts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Obama nominee McDonald pledges to ‘transform’ VA

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Body of missing S. Korean shipping tycoon found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Crews make gains on massive Washington wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Lax security at crash site hampers investigations

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Plane crash bodies removed from war zone

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

Opinion

 
 
Walmart donation benefits Meals on Wheels

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

Batson’s column on Mideast peace is wrong

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 5 Comments

 
Fix our problems first

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 7 Comments

.

Living

Today in History for July 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: July 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

How to argue appropriately with your mate

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

 
10 Things: 10 fresh ways to use fresh blueberries

By J.M. Hirsch | From Page: B6

Horoscopes for July 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
Bulking up the classic BLT without adding fat

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B6

I’m tired of my parents judging me because of who I date

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

 
A summer sausage roll with a triple dose of fennel

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Entertainment

‘Downton Abbey’ back on Jan. 4 for season 5

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
‘X-Men’ VR experience coming to Comic-Con

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
.

Sports

49ers start fresh after forgettable offseason

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants beat Phillies 9-6 in 14 innings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
A’s agree to 10-year lease to stay in Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Raiders enter camp with ‘chip’ on shoulders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
AP source: Cavs to sign Andrew Wiggins to contract

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Paterno son, other former assistant sue Penn State

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Pyrenees please Nibali, Rogers in Tour Stage 16

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Warriors announce Brandon Rush’s signing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
CEO: Rivers to quit Clippers if Sterling stays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Racehorse owned by Britain’s queen fails dope test

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Mudcats score early, get 7-3 win over South Bay Storm

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

Seahawks start atop AP Pro32 rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Selig still waiting on Tommy John report

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

Ackman goes after Herbalife’s nutrition clubs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8, 1 Comment

 
China meat scandal hits Starbucks, Burger King

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Solid earnings drive more gains in US stocks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Microsoft 4Q earnings hurt by Nokia acquisition

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Apple post biggest earnings gain in nearly 2 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
One in every 25 New Yorkers is a millionaire, study says

By Los Angeles Times | From Page: B8

California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Obituaries

John Klefstad

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6