OLYMPIA—Housing has been a priority this session for Washington legislators, and Rep. Tina Orwall knows a thing or two about helping families keep their homes. In 2011, the Des Moines Democrat authored the bill that created the Foreclosure Fairness Act (FFA) and has since continued adding protections for homeowners, this year, with the introduction of HB 1349 and HB 1636.
“I have seen how the FFA is yielding results by providing homeowners with foreclosure assistance through housing counseling, civil legal aid, and foreclosure mediation. The program helps homeowners and lenders explore possible alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution whenever possible,” said Orwall. “The group of homeowners, attorneys, and banking industry members that got together to create the FFA continues to meet. Along the course of the last decade, we have been strengthening the program to keep more families in their homes during these difficult times and these bills are a continuation of that process.”
HB 1349 extends the timeframe to refer homeowners to mediation in the case of a default; removes the requirement that successors occupy a home to be referred to mediation; extends lookback window exemptions on mediation and remittance through 2023; and adds new language that will delay the trustee sale of a house for the homeowners to apply for federal relief funds.
In addition, this bill was amended in the Senate to include the policy in another Orwall bill that didn’t make it out of the House, HB 1637, which prohibits excessive fees for locating or recovering foreclosure surplus funds and other unclaimed property.
HB 1349 passed the Senate on April 6 with a unanimous vote.
HB 1636 addresses those who own housing units such as condos in homeowners’ associations. Among other protections, the bill establishes that homeowners cannot be foreclosed on unless the fees and fines are over $2,000 and the homeowners have had the ability to apply for federal assistance dollars.
HB 1636 passed the Senate on April 7, also with a unanimous vote.
“My hope is that these two bills will help many more Washington families stay in their homes and their communities,” added Orwall.
Both HB 1349 and HB 1636 passed the House unanimously on February 28th and March 8th respectively. Bot bills now come back to the House for concurrence to then land on Gov. Inslee’s desk.
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