Homeowner Bill of Rights Up For Final Vote in Sacramento

The measure, backed by California Attorney General Kamala Harris, is opposed by the financial services industry.

Despite complaints from the banking industry that legislators are acting too soon, a bill aimed at protecting homeowners at risk of foreclosure is scheduled for a final vote on Monday.

The so-called Homeowner Bill of Rights would make it illegal for a bank to move forward with foreclosure plans while still negotiating with a property owner about a loan modification.

The bill would also require banks and other lenders to assign a single point of contact to each borrower, so homeowners aren't in the position of negotiating with one bank employee, only to wind up on a merry-go-round of customer service representatives who are unfamiliar with the case.

Another provision is aimed at protecting people who are renting homes that go into foreclosure.

It would make it illegal for the new owner to break a lease with an existing tenant. And it would require banks or new owners to  give tenants 90 days notice before evicting them after a foreclosure.

The legislation was sponsored by Attorney General Kamala Harris. It was introduced in the state senate as SB 900, and in the Assembly as AB 278.

Major banks remain opposed to the measure, saying that it lacks clear rules and would not help most Californians facing foreclosure.

After a key vote moving the measure forward late last week, the California Bankers Association said the legislature should have instead continued to negotiate with lenders to reach a compromise on some elements of the bill.

The group said that the conference committee working to reconcile Assembly and Senate versions of the bill had prematurely suspended negotiations and "failed to produce a workable solution with clear rules that the financial services industry can comply with." 

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