State Attorney General Kamala Harris stood with legislative leaders Wednesday in Sacramento to propose a Homeowners Bill of Rights. The package of six bills targets different aspects of the foreclosure crisis.
Attorney General Kamala Harris calls the bills the legislative followup to the $25 billion foreclosure settlement between 49 states and the country’s largest banks. That settlement is only good for three years.
"What we are doing is taking the best of that settlement, bringing it to California, but doing it in a way that will have lasting impact and change the course so that this does not happen again," Harris explained at a news conference in Sacramento.
One proposed measure would end the “dual track.” That's when banks move to foreclose on a property as the homeowner is negotiating a loan modification. It would require that banks first establish their right to foreclose.
"And we’re going to require that they provide the homeowner with notice of the various stages of default, sale, " Harris added. "So that the homeowner will have some understanding with what is happening with the roof over their head."
Other bills would fine banks for neglecting the homes they’ve taken over in foreclosure, and require the buyers of foreclosed properties to honor existing leases and not evict rent-paying tenants for at least 90 days.
Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg joined the attorney general at the news conference, as did the Democratic lawmakers who authored the bills.
Steinberg said the legislation is not just about protecting homeowners but also about fostering economic recovery.
"What good is it for California that thousands more people have to go through this?" Steinberg asked rhetorically. "What’s the good for California that we have thousands of blighted properties in neighborhoods going unoccupied?"
Steinberg and Harris acknowledged they’ll face opposition from some Democrats, Republicans and a banking industry that rarely welcomes more regulation.