Washington AG gets finder-fee cap in foreclosure cases

By Chris Rizo | Mar 12, 2010

Rob McKenna (R)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline)-Washington residents who lose their home because of back property taxes could get a little extra money in the end thanks to a bill championed by state Attorney General Rob McKenna that was signed into law Friday.

Signed by Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, the new law places a 5 percent cap on fees charged by firms that contact owners of foreclosed properties offering to obtain money remaining after their land's auction.

The statute is in line with the so-called finder's fees that can be charged for other types of unclaimed funds, the attorney general said.

"As foreclosures have increased, we've seen an uptick in get-rich-quick schemes that prey on those who have lost their homes," McKenna said. "This new law is part of our ongoing efforts to help financially-strapped families keep the little money they have left."

The law -- outlined in House Bill 2428 -- was prime-sponsored by state Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview. His bill passed the state Legislature unanimously. It was supported by the Washington State Association of County Treasurers.

The group's legislative chair, Lewis County Treasurer Rose Bowman, said in a statement that firms charging property owners exorbitant fees was a growing problem.

"We were looking for a way to protect our most vulnerable population - people who, for whatever reason, have lost their property to tax foreclosure - and figure out how we can get their money to them and not to others who are trying to claim it," Bowman said.

Bowman added there is no need for residents to even use outside help to get surplus funds returned to them. All that is needed is a notarized from, and a notary at the county will provide the service for no charge, she said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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