The California Homeowner Bill of Rights became law on January 1, 2013 to protect California homeowners from the wrongful foreclosure. This law was a direct response to the many homes that were wrongfully foreclosed upon while homeowners were processing a loan modification and/or short sale with the mortgage servicers.
The laws are designed to guarantee basic fairness and transparency for homeowners in the foreclosure process. Key provisions include:
- Restriction on dual track foreclosure:Mortgage servicers are restricted from advancing the foreclosure process if the homeowner is working on securing a loan modification. When a homeowner completes an application for a loan modification, the foreclosure process is essentially paused until the complete application has been fully reviewed.
- Guaranteed single point of contact:Homeowners are guaranteed a single point of contact as they navigate the system and try to keep their homes – a person or team at the bank who knows the facts of their case, has their paperwork and can get them a decision about their application for a loan modification.
- Verification of documents: Lenders that record and file multiple unverified documents will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $7,500 per loan in an action brought by a civil prosecutor. Lenders who are in violation are also subject to enforcement by licensing agencies, including the Department of Business Oversight, the Bureau of Real Estate.
- Enforceability:Borrowers will have authority to seek redress of “material” violations of the new foreclosure process protections. Injunctive relief will be available prior to a foreclosure sale and recovery of damages will be available following a sale.
- Tenant rights:Purchasers of foreclosed homes are required to give tenants at least 90 days before starting eviction proceedings. If the tenant has a fixed-term lease entered into before transfer of title at the foreclosure sale, the owner must honor the lease unless the owner can prove that exceptions intended to prevent fraudulent leases apply.