The California Homeowner Bill of Rights (HBOR), a law widely credited with evening the playing field between homeowners and their mortgage servicers in California, has also been duplicated by Nevada and Minnesota.
2016 Update: New legislation introduced by Mark Leno and Cathleen Galgiani provides critical protections for widowed spouses and other survivors who assume home ownership responsibilities when the primary mortgage holder passes away. The Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights, (Senate Bill 1150) closes a loophole in California law that fails to provide surviving spouses and children important protections against foreclosure that are available to other homeowners.
Visit www.survivorbillofrights.org to learn more about this important new bill.
Currently, these homeowners can find themselves caught in a “Catch 22” if they seek a loan modification. Servicers inform them that they can’t be considered for a modification until they assume the mortgage. But, they won’t let them assume the mortgage unless they demonstrate that they can afford it. As a result, mortgage payments are missed, fees rack up, and foreclosure can be the unnecessary outcome.
A few stories below illuminate this problem:
In 2012, the Bookers contacted the non-profit legal assistance firm Housing and Economic Rights Advocates for assistance. Attorney Lisa Sitkins say the Bookers tried to make a $7,500 payment to catch up on the loan, but the bank refused it. “Then they proceed to apply over and over and over again for a loan modification and every time they would get rejected and be told that the house was not ‘owner occupied,'” Sitkins said.. Michael Finney. ABC7News. October 13, 2014. 7 On Your Side Helps With Widow Foreclosure Nightmare
“Ms. Bates, 70, is caught in a foreclosure trap that is ensnaring widows across America: she cannot get help lowering her payments until her name is added to the mortgage note, but the lender says she must be current on payments before that can happen.” Read complete story here: Mortgage Catch Pushes Widows Into Foreclosure (Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times, 12/1/2012)
“ELK GROVE (CBS13) —The mortgage was in her late husband George’s name. The decorated war veteran died in 2007. Daughter, April, says she sent Green Tree his death certificate and the grant deed with her mother’s name on it, but says Green Tree will not work with them.” Read complete story here: Call Kurtis Investigates: Surviving Family Members Losing Homes Left By Loved Ones (CBS Sacramento, 11/1/2013)
“WASHINGTON — Billions of dollars in foreclosure settlements between big banks and government regulators haven’t helped Laura Biggs. The California woman is scheduled to lose her home nine days before Christmas because her mortgage company concluded that the house is no longer the primary residence of her husband, who’s been dead since 2003.” Read complete story here: “Bank might foreclose on home because late husband isn’t residing there” (Kevin Hall, McClatchyWashington Bureau, December 9, 2013).
To read the full press release about AB 244, click here: New California Bill Clarifies that Widows are also Protected by California Homeowner Bill of Rights