Borrowers facing foreclosure

The state of New York is taking the next step in its fight against abandoned foreclosures and neighborhood blight by unveiling a consumer bill of rights for borrowers facing foreclosure.

The consumer bill of rights is part of series of “sweeping” new laws announced by the state earlier this year designed to reform the state’s foreclosure process and address the state’s issues with abandoned foreclosures, also called zombie homes. New York has one of the longest foreclosure timelines in the nation, averaging 1,070 days to foreclose in the third quarter.

According to the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the new laws combat the blight of vacant and abandoned properties by expediting the rehabilitation, repair and improvement of these properties, and enable the state to assist homeowners facing foreclosure.

Additionally, the new laws also impose a pre-foreclosure duty on banks and servicers to maintain zombie homes, create an electronic registry of abandoned properties, and expedite foreclosure for vacant and abandoned properties to get those houses back on the market.

Included among the tenets of New York’s new laws is the establishment of a bill of rights for consumers facing foreclosure, which Cuomo and the New York Department of Financial Services introduced Wednesday.

The consumer bill of rights, which can be read in full here, reminds consumers of the various rights they have before, during, and after the foreclosure process.

First and foremost, the bill of rights tells consumers that they can and should seek the assistance of a lawyer or a housing counselor if they are facing a foreclosure in New York.

The bill of rights also tells borrowers that they have the right to stay in their home during the foreclosure process.

“You have the right to stay in your home and the duty to maintain your property unless and until a court orders you to vacate,” the bill of right states.

“If you abandon your home, the plaintiff (bank or mortgage servicer) may be able to foreclose on your property through an expedited process in court,” the bill of rights continues. “To prevent this outcome, stay in your home and carefully review and respond to documents you receive from the plaintiff or the court in your foreclosure case. A failure to respond or appear in court when required to do so could make it easier for the plaintiff to show that your property is vacant and abandoned, which could put you at risk of an expedited foreclosure.”

The bill of rights also walks borrowers through the various steps of the foreclosure process and their rights throughout, including their legal options and their right to seek “loss mitigation” options.

Again, click here for the full consumer bill of rights.

“These reforms help ensure New Yorkers at risk of foreclosure know their rights, that banks and mortgage servicers are held to their obligations, and that neighborhoods across the state are protected from the blight of zombie properties, which threaten property values, as well as public safety,” Cuomo said. “These steps will help protect the quality of life in our communities and preserve the American Dream in New York.”

Additionally, the New York Department of Financial Services finalized the new regulations it proposed earlier this year as part of the state’s new foreclosure laws.

Under the state’s new laws, lenders and mortgage servicers must complete an inspection of a property subject to delinquency within 90 days and must secure and maintain the property where the bank or servicer has a reasonable basis to believe that the property is vacant and abandoned, in addition to other requirements.

“DFS is proud to put this vital legislation, signed by Gov. Cuomo, into action with this final regulation and new Consumer Bill of Rights,” NYDFS Superintendent Maria Vullo said. “Homeowners will now be armed with the information they need to better navigate the foreclosure process and entire communities will be provided assistance and protection with this final regulation in place.”