How are states using legislation to address foreclosures? In a 2019 overview and 2020 preview, Covius tracks the trends in each states, identifying the six most common areas within default servicing and foreclosure that state lawmakers are addressing, and how they are tackling issues unique to their state.
Six of the most common areas addressed by legislators, Covius notes, are judicial foreclosure, government shutdown relief, foreclosure mediation, foreclosure moratoriums, mandatory forbearance, and zombie properties.
Several states this year introduced new legislation which would eliminate non-judicial residential foreclosures, requiring lenders to file a lawsuit against borrowers in order to foreclose. For example, New Hampshire introduced a bill that would repeal the section of New Hampshire law governing non-judicial foreclosure and would replace it with a section requiring lenders to proceed with foreclosure through a civil lawsuit. New Mexico and Massachusetts proposed similar bills, requiring judicial foreclosure for all residential mortgages on 1- to 6-family, owner-occupied properties. However, the bills failed in New Mexico and New Hampshire, while Massachusetts’ bill is now eligible for consideration in an Executive Session.
Additionally, despite low volumes of default and foreclosures nationwide, and a dwindling number of zombie homes, some states are still putting focus on foreclosure mediation practices while combating neighborhood blight in their communities. For example, in Connecticut, legislators introduced multiple bills to extend their state’s mediation program several more years or indefinitely. The bill is still pending.
States with high rates of foreclosures are still looking to combat zombie homes. A special team in New York, for example, identified over 3,000 zombie homes in the Big Apple, most of which are based in areas that are still recovering from the economic distress caused during the Great Recession. On a statewide basis, New York SB 5079, the “Zombie Property Remediation Act”, would give New York cities, villages, and towns the right to sue lenders in order to move foreclosures on abandoned properties more quickly.