The Homeowner Survivor Bill of Rights, authored by Senators Mark Leno and Cathleen Galgiani, has been signed by Governor Brown. Senate Bill 1150 closes a loophole in California law that fails to provide surviving family members important protections against foreclosure that are available to other homeowners.
“Facing foreclosure after the loss of a loved one can be devastating,” said Senator Leno. “The governor’s approval of SB 1150 will help keep more families in their homes and reaffirms California as a nationwide leader in protecting vulnerable homeowners.”
While the California Homeowners’ Bill of Rights—approved by the Legislature in 2012—provided foreclosure relief for thousands of California families, the legislation did not protect surviving family members who own their homes but are not listed on the mortgage.
These survivors report that servicers fail to provide factual information about loan details and foreclosure avoidance programs or refuse to communicate with them. As a result, many families have experienced unnecessary foreclosures.
SB 1150 clarifies the responsibilities of a mortgage servicer when a borrower dies and one of the surviving homeowners wishes to assume the loan. The legislation ensures that heirs receive accurate information about loan assumption and foreclosure prevention programs.
It also gives survivors a single point of contact with the servicer and the ability to apply for loan assumption and modification.
“The American dream has turned into a nightmare for people like me,” said Kit Dillon Givas, a surviving homeowner in Sacramento. “My husband passed away in February this year. Instead of spending time to properly grieve, I’ve spent the last six months trying to get my mortgage servicer to talk to me about how to keep our home of 28 years. I thank Governor Brown for signing this bill so that other survivors like me don’t have to go through what I have.”
“(This) is a victory for seniors, for protecting the largest asset most of us will ever own, for stopping mortgage servicing abuses that were leading to needless foreclosures, and for stabilizing California communities. We thank the nonprofit housing counselors, attorneys and other advocates who first brought these abuses to light, who helped homeowners to keep their homes, and who supported SB 1150 throughout the legislative process. We’re also grateful to the homeowners who courageously testified about the many challenges they faced so that other survivors wouldn’t have to in the future,” said Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, a co-sponsor of SB 1150.
SB 1150 was sponsored by the California Alliance for Retired Americans, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates and California Reinvestment Coalition. The bill was supported by Attorney General Kamala Harris, AARP and the California District Attorneys Association, as well as a long list of civil rights, housing and labor organizations.