California attorney general seeks more mortgage protections

by Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times

California’s top law enforcer is calling on legislators to pass half a dozen new bills that would give more protection to homeowners facing foreclosure.

Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said Wednesday that the proposed legislation, dubbed the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, is aimed at fixing some of the most serious flaws in the system.

If approved by lawmakers and the governor, the bills would stop banks from simultaneously pursuing foreclosures against troubled borrowers who are in talks with them about loan modifications. Borrowers also would have to be given a single point of contact instead of being passed from one department to another.

"California communities and families are being devastated by the mortgage and foreclosure crisis. We must ensure the deceptive practices that caused it never happen again," Harris said. "The California Homeowner Bill of Rights will provide basic fairness and transparency for homeowners, and improve the mortgage process for everyone."

The proposed legislation comes almost three weeks after California joined a nationwide foreclosure settlement with some major banks that’s projected to provide up to $18 billion in financial assistance to California homeowners.

Speaking at a news conference at the state Capitol, Harris noted that California, along with neighboring Nevada, suffered the most from the housing meltdown. She was joined by 11 Democratic lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker John A. P