Updated Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013
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Press release on program expansion from Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
The County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is pleased to announce an expansion of its Homeowner Notification Program, which has informed and assisted Los Angeles County homeowners for more than 15 years.
The expanded program will allow DCA to become a partner in homeownership for the people of Los Angeles County. DCA offers free, reliable help to consumers with every aspect of owning a home – from getting a good loan to dealing with home improvement contractors to avoiding a foreclosure.
DCA’s trained staff will help Los Angeles County homeowners facing foreclosure stay in their homes. Also, DCA will continue its efforts to fight real estate fraud and advise homeowners about their rights and responsibilities.
The Homeowner Notification Program
Since 1996, the County of Los Angeles has operated a Homeowner Notification Program, which notifies homeowners when a deed, quitclaim deed, or deed of trust is recorded. Homeowners receive a copy of the recorded document and are instructed to call DCA for information or help.
Hundreds of thousands of notifications are sent out each year. Nearly 10,000 of those homeowners contact Consumer Affairs for help in fighting possible real estate fraud. Surveys sent with notifications show more than 96 percent of homeowners approve the program.
The Housing Foreclosure Crisis
In recent years, L.A. County homeowners have been impacted by the housing crisis and continue to face high rates of foreclosure and underwater mortgage debt. Since 2006, more than 450,000 L.A. County homes have entered foreclosure.
Foreclosure fraud has also increased greatly. Scam artists search public records to find properties in foreclosure and send official-looking documents which promise to end the foreclosure for an upfront fee, which is against the law.
State and County Lawmakers Pass Bills to Expand Program
County-sponsored Senate Bill (SB) 62 was approved by the State Senate and Assembly signed into law by Governor Brown in July 2011. The law took effect in January 2012 and enabled Los Angeles County to increase recording fees on certain real estate documents to provide notification to homeowners and tenants in foreclosed homes. The new law also authorizes DCA to use a portion of the increased recording fees to provide counseling, information, and assistance to a person who receives the notice. The County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors on Oct. 22, 2013 approved an amendment to the County Code, Title 2 – Administration, to add Section 2.32.091, which calls for the expanded Homeowner Notification Program.
Expanding Homeowner Notification Program to Help Avoid Foreclosures
Los Angeles County will expand the Homeowner Notification Program to notify both homeowners and tenants who receive a Notice of Default or Notice of Sale, the primary notices used in a foreclosure. Notifying homeowners who have received a Notice of Default or Notice of Sale will reduce foreclosure fraud and give homeowners the information and help they need to save their home.
DCA counselors offer free, reliable assistance to help homeowners avoid becoming a victim of foreclosure fraud. DCA works directly with lenders to explore all options to avoid foreclosure. DCA investigators coordinate with law enforcement, and prosecuting and regulatory agencies to identify and investigate real estate fraud cases for referral for civil or criminal prosecution.