Assembly + State Senate Both Pass Two Major Portions of "Homeowner Bill of Rights"


(July 2, 2012, UPDATED 5:00 p.m.) -- Governor Jerry Brown has issued the following statement regarding the state legislature's passage (reported earlier by of key provisions of the "Homeowner Bill of Rights"...signaling that he will sign (not veto) the measure now headed to his desk.

"The Homeowner Bill of Rights will prevent banks from throwing Californians out of their homes while they are trying, in good faith, to renegotiate their mortgages. This bill establishes important consumer protections that are long overdue and I commend Attorney General Kamala Harris for her determined pursuit of these changes."

(July 2, 2:30 p.m.) -- The state Senate and Assembly today (July 2) both passed key provisions of the "Homeowner Bill of Rights," a package of measures supported by CA Attorney Gen'l Kamala Harris and opposed by banking and some real estate interests. The measures were approved in the Assembly (53-25) and in the state Senate (25-13, with state Senators Alan Lowenthl and Rod Wright voting "yes").

The "Homeowner Bill of Rights" included two "big ticket" items which were approved today after passage on June 26 by a two-house conference committee: AB 278 (Eng, Feuer, Pérez, Mitchell) and SB 900 (Leno, Evans, Corbett, DeSaulnier, Pavley, Steinberg). The two identifical bills restrict "dual-track" foreclosures (in which a lender forecloses on a borrower while in dicussions with the homeowner of loan modifications) and also guarantee homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers.

The measures also impose civil penalties of up to $7,500 on "robo signing" (filing documents without verifying their accuracy). The legislation gives homeowners the right to require require loan servicers to document their right to foreclose and provides access to courts to protect themselves from violations of these provisions.

The two measures now go to Governor Jerry Brown for his action (signing into law or veto).

On May 8, Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske agendized an item seeking to put the City on record as supporting the measures. The item drew stern opposition from Henry Walker, CEO of Farmers & Merchants Bank, coverage, click here and the Council opted to send the measure to its State Legislation Committee (O'Donnell, Garcia, Johnson) for a hearing. Several Councilmembers urged that this be done swiftly as the state legislation is poised for upcoming voted action and Committee chair O'Donnell said he would do so.

However O'Donnell didn't do until over a month later on June 11, at which time city staffer/government affairs analyst Diana Tang indicated that the two major bills (which the legislature passed today July 2) didn't appear to be moving forward at that time. Accordingly, the Committee didn't take a position on those items, but focused on less controversial elements of the "Bill of Rights" (supported SB 1472 (Pavley) and SB 1473 (Hancock), if amended, with a caveat to take Federal protections into consideration, take no positions on SB 1470 (Leno) and SB 1471 (DeSaulnier).

These recommendation will reach LB's City Council after the major "big ticket" and more controversial portions of the legislation were just passed (July 2).

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