California Gov. Jerry Brown this week signed three new laws that are part of the Homeowner Bill of Rights aimed at increasing prosecutions for mortgage-related crimes.
The laws give California's Attorney General Kamala D. Harris the authority to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate financial crimes, including mortgage fraud; extend from one year to three years the statute of limitations for prosecuting mortgage-related crimes; and give renters a guarantee to stay in a foreclosed property bought by new owners.
In July, Brown signed two of the most controversial parts of the Homeowner Bill of Rights that expands some of the requirements of the national mortgage settlement to all mortgage servicers in the state.
It allows homeowners to sue servicers to stop foreclosures under certain conditions or to seek monetary damages if the lenders intentionally or recklessly violate state law. Some lenders said the liability provision would lead to more lawsuits against servicers and force banks' mortgage lending arms to raise borrowing costs.