SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Legal Newsline)-Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Wednesday that the state is doing what it can to help struggling homebuyers caught in the subprime mortgage crisis that has gripped communities across the Beehive State and the nation.
"A lot of people turn to government when there's a problem like this mortgage crisis we're facing," Shurtleff said at a news conference.
"That's appropriate, to seek legislation, to have lawsuits and charges brought against companies who have hurt people and inappropriately drawn them into a debt trap so they end up losing their homes," the Republican AG added.
In Utah, foreclosure-related filings increased 63 percent from April 2007 to April 2008, figures by RealtyTrac Inc. indicate.
The Irvine, Calif.-based company says one in every 684 households in Utah received a foreclosure-related filing last month, compared to one in every 519 households nationally.
To help avert future foreclosures, the attorney general called on state lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow more sunshine in on home lending practices to prevent people from being victimized by predatory lenders, who charge high fees and offer unfavorable terms.
For their part, Shurtleff said lenders ought to help those homebuyers headed for foreclosure by restructuring their loans so they don't lose the roof over their head.
"I know they want to look at this as a business deal, but this is a crisis, and everybody needs to step up," Shurtleff said.
"Those companies need to step up and say, 'Until we can work through this and get the help people need, we need to stop kicking people out of their homes and do everything we can to keep them in their homes,"' he added.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.