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May 11, 2012 > Bills to protect tenants, alleviate blight and prosecute mortgage fraud

Bills to protect tenants, alleviate blight and prosecute mortgage fraud

Submitted By the Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced on April 17, 2012 that seven bills in the California Homeowner Bill of Rights to protect homeowners from unfair practices by banks and mortgage companies passed out of Legislative committees.

The bills include measures to protect tenants in the foreclosure process, allow local communities better remedies against blight and allow the Attorney General's office more power to investigate and prosecute mortgage-related crimes.

"All Californians have been impacted by the toll the mortgage and foreclosure process has taken on our neighborhoods," said Harris. "Our California Homeowner Bill of Rights will provide relief for homeowners, tenants and communities. I thank the authors and supporters of these important bills."

AB 2314 and SB 1472 would provide local jurisdictions with additional tools to fight blight from abandoned homes. These tools include increased penalties against the owners of blighted property, including the cost of taking control of that property. AB 2314 and SB 1472 unanimously passed the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees.

Another bill aims to provide greater protections to California tenants. AB 2610 and SB 1473 would provide California tenants with the same protections that they are currently afforded under federal law. This legislation would require purchasers of foreclosed homes to honor the terms of existing leases and give tenants at least 90 days before commencing eviction proceedings. The bills passed the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees on a 7 to 3 and 3 to 2 vote, respectively.

Two bills would provide additional tools for the Attorney General's office to investigate and prosecute mortgage frauds and crimes. AB 1950 would extend the statute of limitations on mortgage-related crimes, including loan modification scams and the unlicensed sale of real estate. This legislation would also provide the Attorney General's office with funding to prosecute these and other mortgage-related crimes through a $25 fee to be paid by servicers upon the recording of a notice of default. AB 1950 passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 4 to 2 vote.

Harris formed a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in 2011 to investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud. In August 2011, the Strike Force filed its first suit against a law firm that took millions from desperate homeowners:

AB 1763 and SB 1474 would allow the Attorney General to convene a special grand jury to investigate and indict the perpetrators of financial crimes involving victims in multiple jurisdictions. Both bills passed out of their houses' Public Safety Committees unanimously.

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