CALIFORNIA HOMEOWNERS BILL OF RIGHTS: CALIFORNIA SENATE BILL No. 278

by Barry Fagan
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CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY BILL No. 278

CHAPTER 86

An act to amend and add Sections 2923.5 and 2923.6 of, to amend and repeal Section 2924 of, to add Sections 2920.5, 2923.4, 2923.7, 2924.17, and 2924.20 to, to add and repeal Sections 2923.55, 2924.9, 2924.10, 2924.18, and 2924.19 of, and to add, repeal, and add Sections 2924.11, 2924.12, and 2924.15 of, the Civil Code, relating to mortgages.

Approved by Governor July 11, 2012.

Filed Secretary of State July 11, 2012.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

AB 278, Eng. Mortgages and deeds of trust: foreclosure.

(1) Existing law, until January 1, 2013, requires a mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized agent to contact the borrower prior to filing a notice of default to explore options for the borrower to avoid foreclosure, as specified. Existing law requires a notice of default or, in certain circumstances, a notice of sale, to include a declaration stating that the mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized agent has contacted the borrower, or has tried with due diligence to contact the borrower, or that no contact was required for a specified reason.

This bill would add mortgage servicers, as defined, to these provisions and would extend the operation of these provisions indefinitely, except that it would delete the requirement with respect to a notice of sale. The bill would, until January 1, 2018, additionally require the borrower, as defined, to be provided with specified information in writing prior to recordation of a notice of default and, in certain circumstances, within 5 business days after recordation. The bill would prohibit a mortgage servicer, mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized agent from recording a notice of default or, until January 1, 2018, recording a notice of sale or conducting a trustee’s sale while a complete first lien loan modification application is pending, under specified conditions. The bill would, until January 1, 2018, establish additional procedures to be followed regarding a first lien loan modification application, the denial of an application, and a borrower’s right to appeal a denial.

(2) Existing law imposes various requirements that must be satisfied prior to exercising a power of sale under a mortgage or deed of trust, including, among other things, recording a notice of default and a notice of sale.

The bill would, until January 1, 2018, require a written notice to the borrower after the postponement of a foreclosure sale in order to advise the borrower of any new sale date and time, as specified. The bill would provide that an entity shall not record a notice of default or otherwise initiate the foreclosure process unless it is the holder of the beneficial interest under the deed of trust, the original or substituted trustee, or the designated agent of the holder of the beneficial interest, as specified.

The bill would prohibit recordation of a notice of default or a notice of sale or the conduct of a trustee’s sale if a foreclosure prevention alternative has been approved and certain conditions exist and would, until January 1, 2018, require recordation of a rescission of those notices upon execution of a permanent foreclosure prevention alternative. The bill would, until January 1, 2018, prohibit the collection of application fees and the collection of late fees while a foreclosure prevention alternative is being considered, if certain criteria are met, and would require a subsequent mortgage servicer to honor any previously approved foreclosure prevention alternative.

The bill would authorize a borrower to seek an injunction and damages for violations of certain of the provisions described above, except as specified. The bill would authorize the greater of treble actual damages or $50,000 in statutory damages if a violation of certain provisions is found to be intentional or reckless or resulted from willful misconduct, as specified. The bill would authorize the awarding of attorneys’ fees for prevailing borrowers, as specified. Violations of these provisions by licensees of the Department of Corporations, the Department of Financial Institutions, and the Department of Real Estate would also be violations of those respective licensing laws. Because a violation of certain of those licensing laws is a crime, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

The bill would provide that the requirements imposed on mortgage servicers, and mortgagees, trustees, beneficiaries, and authorized agents, described above are applicable only to mortgages or deeds of trust secured by residential real property not exceeding 4 dwelling units that is owner-occupied, as defined, and, until January 1, 2018, only to those entities who conduct more than 175 foreclosure sales per year or annual reporting period, except as specified.

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Written by:

Barry Fagan
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