Foreclosure Legislation at the 2011 Session

This is a guest post by Amy Weiss. Amy is originally from Richmond, Virginia and is a second year law student at the University of Richmond.  She graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2007 where she studied history and anthropology.

The Virginia General Assembly session just started on January 12th, but there has already been a lot of activity on the issue of foreclosures.  Currently, Virginia is among the four fastest foreclosure states in the nation because it does not require the increased oversight of “judicial foreclosures.”  There are several bills in the House and the Senate proposing increased regulations.  Representatives from both parties have banded together in an effort to propose stricter requirements for the foreclosure and sale of Virginia homes.

In the House, Delegate Bob Marshall (R) sponsored HB1506, which would require the mortgage lender to record with the localities which lender owns the note (the document claiming indebtedness by the property owner).  Also, trustees in the foreclosure process would need to provide the property owner with 45 days notice before selling foreclosed property.

Senator Don McEachin (D) sponsored two bills seeking to impose stricter regulations on mortgagees and trustee for mortgaged property.  SB 795 would require the mortgagee to disclose detailed information about a default on the mortgage to the trustee before setting a date for a disclosure sale.  The bill would also require trustees to act with more care by giving property owners more notice and making more diligent efforts to contact them if a current address is unavailable.  If trustees violated any of the provisions for foreclosure sale, they would be held accountable for a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.  SB 798 would impose more stringent requirements for foreclosure sale of all property with mortgages obtained after July 1, 2011.  SB 798 would require trustees to comply with a judicial proceeding and obtain a court order before foreclosing any mortgaged property

Senator Chap Peterson (D) also sponsored two bills addressing foreclosures.  SB 837 would require any person who uses false documents to support the foreclosure of property to pay a $2,500 fine for each separate violation.  The bill would also give the owner of the foreclosed property the right to sue the person individually for the violations.  SB 838 would require the mortgagee to file a Certificate of Assignment with the Court when taking a mortgage out on a piece of property.

Much of the foreclosure debate has focused on the stories of ordinary Virginians who have suffered the loss of their homes through foreclosure sales.  Bipartisan efforts to increase judicial oversight and accountability would be a good first step to help fix this problem.

You can watch a video of a Virginia woman below who lost her home despite making all her temporary loan modification payments on time and in full. Her lender denied her a permanent modification and foreclosed on her home.

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