SB 1150 WILL PROTECT HOMEOWNERS FROM NEEDLESS FORECLOSURES
San Francisco, CA- September 29– The California Reinvestment Coalition is pleased to announce that earlier today, Governor Brown signed SB 1150 (Leno, Galgiani) to protect widows, widowers, and other heirs from unnecessary foreclosures. Senate Bill 1150, the Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights (SBOR), was co-sponsored by the California Reinvestment Coalition, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates and the California Alliance for Retired Americans.
SBOR will address some of the most egregious foreclosure practices reported by California homeowners whose loved ones have passed away. Previously, banks and other mortgage servicers have refused to speak to surviving homeowners and have subsequently foreclosed on them. A surviving homeowner is defined as a person who owns a home but whose deceased loved one was the only person listed on the mortgage. This can include widowed spouses, domestic partners, heirs, siblings, and joint tenants.
Under the new law, servicers will now have to speak with these surviving homeowners and provide clear information about their options and the process to assume the mortgage and possibly seek a modification. As a recourse, similar to the Homeowner Bill of Rights, surviving homeowners will be able to sue banks and mortgage servicers that don’t comply with the law. SBOR takes effect in January, 2017.
“The American dream has turned into a nightmare for people like me. My husband passed away in February this year. Instead of spending time to properly grieve, I’ve spent the last six months trying to get Ocwen, my mortgage servicer, to talk to me about how to keep our home of 28 years. I’m glad other survivors like me won’t have to go through what I have” comments Kit Dillon Givas, a surviving homeowner from Sacramento.
“Today is a victory for seniors, for protecting the largest asset most of us will ever own, for stopping mortgage servicing abuses that were leading to needless foreclosures, and for stabilizing California communities. We thank the nonprofit housing counselors, attorneys and other advocates who first brought these abuses to light, who helped homeowners to keep their homes, and who supported SB 1150 throughout the legislative process. We’re also grateful to the homeowners who courageously testified about the many challenges they faced so that other survivors wouldn’t have to in the future,” explains Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.
“Surviving homeowners deserve better than the senseless obstacles created by mortgage servicers which were too often leading to unnecessary foreclosures. Our attorneys will monitor the implementation of SBOR closely and will work to inform surviving homeowners about these important new protections. We encourage mortgage servicers to immediately start working with these at-risk homeowners and to start training their staff and updating their policies and procedures now so that they’ll be compliant when this law takes effect in January” explains Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.
“The majority of senior homeowners want to age in place in their own homes, but you can’t do that if your home has been foreclosed on because of bank red tape,” explains Nan Brasmer, president of the California Alliance for Retired Americans, a co-sponsor of SB 1150. She adds: “Senator Leno stood up for senior homeowners, and we commend him for it.”
“Leaders of the banking industry have proven their contempt for individuals by consistently skirting the law and taking advantage of good citizens long enough. It’s time we take back our economic rights. SB 1150 is a great step in this direction and Californians can be proud to be among the first in the nation to make this bold move. For all those who, like me, have experienced irreparable financial hardship at the hands of the banking and finance industry, you are not alone and together we will change conditions for those who follow” comments Ric Hornor, a surviving homeowner from El Dorado County, who testified in support of SB 1150.
“My mom passed away and it’s been a nightmare ever since. The mortgage servicer refused to speak with me, refused to accept payments, and moved to foreclose on me. I’m glad to see that SB1150 is now law so that servicers will have to actually speak with surviving homeowners like me and to explain our options for assuming the loan and keeping our homes,” explains Anthony Barcellos, a surviving homeowner from Citrus Heights California.
Background: After hearing from housing counselors and attorneys who were trying to help surviving homeowners, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates and the California Reinvestment Coalition sent a detailed legal analysis and recommendations to housing and banking regulators in 2012. Subsequent guidance by Fannie Mae (2013), Freddie Mac (2013), the US Department of Treasury (2013), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (2014), instructed mortgage servicers on assisting surviving homeowners. Despite these new guidelines, 87% of respondents in a 2014 survey of California housing counselors and attorneys said the “widows issue” was still a problem. The CFPB disclosed in August 2016 that they had received the most public comments about this issue in a recent mortgage servicing rule update.
Broad Support: SB 1150 was co-sponsored by Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA), the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), and the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA). SB 1150 was supported by a “who’s who” of California leaders, nonprofits, and unions, including: California Attorney General Kamala Harris, AARP California, California NAACP, Courage Campaign, CalPIRG, Central Valley Realtist Board, the Multicultural Real Estate Alliance for Urban Change, the National Council of La Raza, National Housing Law Project, Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County, People’s Self Help Housing Corporation, Public Counsel, Rural Community Assistance Corporation, and more. To see a full list of supporters, visit www.survivorbillofrights.org.
White Paper: Housing and Economic Rights Advocates released a white paper in 2016 that explains how women are far more likely to be impacted by this issue; that these needless foreclosures wipe out the main asset most Americans own (especially older Americans); that older Americans overwhelmingly prefer to “age in place;” and that banks were actively lobbying against these important protections. The paper is available for free download here: Whose Home Is It Anyway? How The Modern Mortgage Servicing Industry Strips Wealth From Low and Moderate Income Communities In the U.S. And California
For more information about SB 1150, please visit www.survivorbillofrights.org, which includes stories from surviving homeowners, a list of the more than 60 supporting organizations, and more information about the bill.