Foreclosure relief bills stall in Oregon State Legislature
Three bills in the Oregon Senate staunchly opposed by the mortgage industry failed to make it to the finish line as the session wound down this week. The bills were aimed at providing foreclosure protections for Oregon homeowners, but mortgage industry officials pegged them as costly and unnecessary. Senate Bill 826, which attempted to hold servicers more accountable with a "duty of good faith and fair dealing toward" the borrower, never made it to the Senate floor and died in committee. The bill proposed several requirements servicers must follow, including crediting payments to a borrower's mortgage account on certain dates, and stopping late fees until the servicer credits payments to the account. Furthermore, the bill sought to provide a schedule of fees, information about mortgage loan modification options, and particular statements of account upon request. Senate Bill 827 would have given the state's Department of Consumer and Business Services the ability to prosecute an unlawful lender. The bill passed the Senate but died in the House Rules Committee. The industry contended they would have faced prosecution for honest mistakes while proponents said only willful violations would have been subjected to enforcement. Another bill, S.B. 484, clarified the recording law in the state, but that bill went nowhere. Susan Bonamici, a Democrat, was the sponsor of all three bills and began working on foreclosure issues back in 2009 with the passage of a bill that set up some basic protections for homeowners. Linda Navarro, president and CEO of the Oregon Bankers Association, recently said the bills "would do little to help those in foreclosure" in a response to a Statesman Journal editorial in support of the bills. A group calling itself United Financial Lobby, which consists of several housing finance trade groups, said S.B. 826 would have created a costly new licensing program for community banks and would not have applied to national banks, which service a large number of mortgages. The group also contended that federal consent orders involving 14 major industry players more comprehensively addresses issues. The group said S.B. 827 would have added lengthy delays to the foreclosure process and would have actually codified the "dual track" of a foreclosure modification occurring while a foreclosure proceeding is also under way. The consent orders prohibit dual tracking, a controversial practice in the industry. Proponents, meanwhile, said the legislation was sorely needed. "The problem has not been addressed at the federal level. Consent orders issued by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency do not stop preventable foreclosures and do little to hold servicers accountable for illegal practices," according to a fact sheet put out by supporters of the bills. They contended S.B. 827 would have streamlined and clarified instructions that homeowners get from servicers regarding loan modifications and would have established a clear stopping point on the foreclosure about six weeks before the property sale if a modification was pending in order for the homeowner to get a final answer on the modification. The current session is expected to adjourn Thursday. Write to Matthew Torres or Kerry Curry. Follow Kerry Curry on Twitter @communicatorKLC.