By Nannette Miranda
SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Legislature heavily debated whether California homeowners should be given more rights when facing foreclosure.
"We have experienced a titanic of foreclosures that's sinking the economy," Assem. Mike Eng, D-Alhambra, said.
Opponents said all this does is open the door to more lawsuits against lenders where attorneys will get rich.
"I can't believe we're doing this; this is ridiculous," Assem. Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point said. "Right now, we have 352 days for a foreclosure; that is plenty of time to get your house in order."
The Homeowners' Bill of Rights:
- Bans dual-tracking so that banks can't foreclose on your home while you're pursuing a loan modification
- Requires one single point of contact at the mortgage provider
- Increases penalties for the much criticized practice of robo-signing, which is automatic approval for foreclosure without reading documents
- Lets homeowners sue for significant violations
Attorney General Kamala Harris took the lead in both the national mortgage settlement and the effort to put much of it into state law.
"What we did today is we gave those families some promise that they can be in a system that allows them a fair opportunity," Harris said.
The passage of the Homeowners' Bill of Rights gives Luis Viscarra of San Francisco some hope. He has a loan modification now and takes comfort in knowing the bank cannot foreclose on him if Gov. Jerry Brown signs it.
"This bill will be very good because there will at least some guidelines," Viscarra said. "There is nothing. The banks make their laws, and we don't have any protection."
Brown signaled he would sign the Homeowners' Bill of Rights.