Originally published in Our Time Press on April 09, 2019.

Bill Provides Protections for Owners of Homes in Default or in Foreclosure

Senator (Velmanette) Montgomery’s “Deed Theft Bill” (S1688/A5615 – Weinstein) passed the Senate and now awaits the governor’s signature. This legislation would strengthen and expand upon the Home Equity Theft Act of 2006 (“HETPA”) by providing greater protections for owners of homes that are either in default or in foreclosure. It also strengthens laws regulating distressed property “consultants” who provide services to prevent property loss. 

Fraudulent companies target seniors, homeowners struggling financially, and for whom English is not their first language. They often offer unsolicited assistance with foreclosure or modifications, sometimes claiming that the victim’s home is already up for auction. They are sophisticated operators who take advantage of loopholes in the law by associating themselves with law firms that allow them to avoid legal repercussions.

Homeowners believe these companies will represent them honestly. They often inadvertently sign away the deeds to their homes, sometimes not realizing the mistake until years later. Unfortunately, it seems to be all too easy for fraudulent companies to mislead, defraud and outright steal property from homeowners. But reversing it is nearly impossible when homeowners, many of whom are already struggling, have to take on the cost and time of a lawsuit.

“Passing the Deed Theft Bill is a major step forward in addressing one of the most pressing issues among homeowners. These thieves target our most vulnerable homeowners and snatch generations of wealth from our families. For every one that thinks to call their elected officials or speak out, I know there are a dozen more who do not know where to turn,” said state Senator Velmanette Montgomery. “I am so thankful for the support of my colleagues and the tremendous work that the advocates have put in to get this done.”

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