Final provisions of Harris' bill of rights signed into law

Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 26, 2012, 9:15am


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - The final components of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights have been signed into law, state Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Tuesday.

Gov. Jerry Brown, Harris' predecessor, signed Senate Bill 1474, Assembly Bill 1950 and Assembly Bill 2610.

SB 1474 gives Harris' office the ability to use a statewide grand jury to investigate and indict the perpetrators of financial crimes involving victims in multiple counties.

AB 1950 extends the statute of limitations for prosecuting mortgage-related crimes from one year to three years, giving the justice department and local district attorneys the time needed to investigate and prosecute complex mortgage fraud crimes.

AB 2610 requires purchasers of foreclosed homes to give tenants at least 90 days before starting eviction proceedings.

If the tenant has a fixed-term lease, the new owner must honor the lease unless the owner demonstrates that certain exceptions intended to prevent fraudulent leases apply.

"California has been the epicenter of the foreclosure and mortgage crisis," Harris said in a statement Tuesday.

"The Homeowner Bill of Rights will provide basic fairness and transparency for homeowners, and improve the mortgage process for everyone."

Other key provisions of the bill of rights were signed into law in July.

Of those provisions, one provides additional tools to local governments and receivers to fight blight caused by multiple vacant homes in neighborhoods.

Two additional bills -- which came out of a two-house conference committee -- provide protections for borrowers and struggling homeowners, including a restriction on "dual-track" foreclosures, where a lender forecloses on a borrower despite being in discussions over a loan modification to save the home.

The bills also guarantee struggling homeowners a single point of contact at their lender with knowledge of their loan and direct access to decision makers.

Harris said all aspects of the Homeowner Bill of Rights will take effect Jan. 1, 2013.

The attorney general has said the package builds on the nationwide mortgage settlement, making those reforms permanent and extending them to all Californians -- not just those hurt by the five banks.

In February, federal officials and 49 state attorneys general, including Harris, reached a $25 billion agreement with Wells Fargo and Co., JPMorgan Chase and Co., Citigroup Inc., Ally Financial Inc. and Bank of America Corp. over their alleged improper foreclosure practices.

Of the $25 billion, California claimed the largest portion of the pot -- $18 billion.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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