By Maine State Rep. Bobbi Beavers
March 22, 2012
I have learned a lot about governing while shepherding a bill proposed to protect Mainers during foreclosure through the committee process and toward enactment. I learned that widely supported good consumer bills can be sidelined by national lending organization lobbyists and that Maine people must be first and foremost in legislators’ minds when it comes time to vote.
This week, the Maine Senate enacted L.D. 145, and now it awaits the governor’s signature to become law.
When finally passed, the bill will help prevent large mortgage companies from foreclosing on homes they may not have legal ownership of. It would require the banks to present the original mortgage note before court proceedings or face dismissal.
Current civil procedure rules in Maine require the foreclosing plaintiff to certify - at the beginning of the case - proof of ownership of the mortgage note and produce evidence of it, but during the overwhelming wave of foreclosures, plaintiffs have been neglecting this step or abusing the process by refusing to produce notes. This leads to wasted court time and legal expenses to the homeowner who is trying to determine who holds the mortgage legally.
My bill would require that the mortgage note is produced by a certain time within the proceedings, or the homeowner could ask the court to dismiss the case.
Nationally, this type of mortgage trickery has been wide-spread and has led to the outright theft of homes. Sham mortgage companies can prey on down-on-their-luck homeowners and create a mess for the courts to decide. With millions of foreclosures happening over the last 10 years, some people have lost their homes due to unscrupulous people and less than thorough regulations.
In Maine, we are fortunate to have credit unions, mortgage companies and community banks that are more pro-consumer and follow the letter of the law.
With record home mortgage foreclosures happening across the country – many due to illness, medical bills and job loss – it is important that Maine people understand their options if they find themselves facing financial difficulties and/or home foreclosure. There is help out there to help deal with a very difficult and emotional situation.
Maine has a team of people ready to help should you find yourself nearing a foreclosure situation.
The Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection and the Maine State Housing Authority coordinates an outreach program that helps homeowners faced with possible foreclosure. Trained housing counselors discuss your specific situation and help you work with your mortgage company to devise a plan to keep current on your mortgage. They can also direct you to mediation services and provide education should you find yourself in mortgage foreclosure.
The Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection notifies all borrowers who are in default or a party to a foreclosure about their rights and the resources that are available as well the foreclosure mediation program. There is additional information at: FORECLOSURE RESOURCES, or at the foreclosure prevention hotline at: 1-888-664-2569.
It is sad to see anyone lose their home. Maine people deserve to be treated fairly and protected from scammers looking to steal their home.
It is my hope that Governor Paul LePage will sign this measure and put it in the law books.
LMaine State Rep. Bobbi Beavers is currently in her first term representing House District 148, which includes the town of Eliot and part of South Berwick. She serves on the legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.