SACRAMENTO – State senators voted Monday for a pair of bills extending protections to those hit by California’s mortgage crisis, sending both measures on to the Assembly.
Senators approved continuing a law passed during the peak of the mortgage crisis that provides added protections for property owners, renters and neighbors of foreclosed properties.
The law passed in 2008 says foreclosure proceedings can’t begin until the lender has tried for 30 days to work out alternatives with the delinquent homeowner.
Lenders also must notify renters that they are beginning foreclosure proceedings. And they must give renters 60 days’ notice before evicting them from a foreclosed property.
They also are required to maintain vacant foreclosed houses or risk fines up to $1,000 a day.
The law was set to expire after this year, but senators voted to extend it another five years, through 2017.
“Unfortunately, foreclosures remain a major problem throughout the state. This legislation continues important protections for homeowners and renters that have proved tremendously helpful in this trying time,” Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, said in a statement after her SB708 passed on a 32-1 vote.
Senators unanimously approved a second bill, this one designed to prevent the California Housing Finance Agency from foreclosing on certain borrowers who rent out their homes.
The prohibition is limited to homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments, but rent out their homes because they owe more than their house is worth. The bill’s author, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said it is designed to help property owners who find themselves in financial trouble because of circumstances like a lost job or growing family, and is not aimed at helping housing market speculators.
Housing agency officials previously said they believed they were required to foreclose if the property was no longer the borrower’s primary residence. The agency suspended those foreclosures in October at the urging of DeSaulnier and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
The agency’s board is scheduled to consider the policy at its meeting in March. DeSaulnier said his SB447 would give the agency the statutory authority to change its policy.
There was no opposition and no debate on either bill.