California Homeowner Bill of Rights Nears Passage

On Monday, July 2, 2012, the California legislature will likely vote on the remaining portions of the Homeowner Bill of Rights proposed by State Attorney General Kamala Harris.

“The bills protect homeowners in two ways:

–They ban so-called dual tracking, when mortgage loan servicers allow borrowers to open an application for loan modification to lower their payments while at the same time the foreclosure process is moving forward. Servicers would be required to provide homeowners with “a single point of contact” so they won’t suffer from bureaucratic runarounds.

–They give owner-occupier, first-mortgage holders a right to sue financial institutions, under limited conditions, if the lenders have willfully, intentionally or recklessly violated the law.”

Links: Los Angeles Times article    San Francisco Chronicle article

Investors Plead Guilty to Rigging Foreclosure Auctions

Federal prosecutors charged Lydia Fong and Matthew Worthing, both of San Francisco, with rigging foreclosure auctions by agreeing not to bid against one another. They joined 20 other individuals throughout four Bay Area counties who have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in similar bid rigging and public auction fraud cases.

The DOJ’s antitrust division has an ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud at public real estate foreclosure auctions in the Bay Area. Including Fong and Worthing, a total of 22 people have settled cases in San Mateo, San Francisco, Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

Anyone with information about bid rigging or fraud related to public real estate foreclosure auctions should contact the Antitrust Division’s San Francisco Office at (415) 436-6660 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm or call the FBI tip line at (415) 553-7400.

Lydia Fong at San Francisco foreclosure auction on March 6, 2012

Links: San Mateo Daily Journal Article    7th Space Interactive Article

California Homeowner Bill of Rights

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has announced the California Homeowner Bill of Rights 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.

Joined by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Attorney General Harris announced her sponsorship 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 law enforcement to defend homeowner rights – paid for by fees imposed on banks
- A special grand jury to investigate financial and foreclosure crime