State lawmakers have voted to extend the use of mandatory settlement conferences in residential foreclosure cases through 2020.
The state in 2008 mandated conferences to help achieve outcomes other than foreclosure for homeowners with subprime and high-cost mortgages. The law also required lenders to send a 90-day notice to borrowers before initiating any action.
A year later, the 90-day notice and settlement conferences requirements were expanded to apply to any homeowner facing foreclosure, no matter what type of mortgage they had.
The 2009 expansion was due to expire in February 2015, but the state Senate approved a five-year extension on Tuesday after the Assembly approved its version on June 2. The bill, S7119/A9354, passed the Assembly 131-0 and passed the Senate 57-1 with three excused. State Senator John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, was the lone nay vote.
Senate Majority Coalition Leader Jeffrey Klein, D-Bronx, sponsored the Senate version. Helene Weinstein, D-Brooklyn, chair of the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, sponsored the Assembly bill.
The court system, which did not take any position, has been strained by the number of foreclosures and settlement conferences. There were more than 100,000 conferences last year and more than 40,000 this year through late April, court administrators said. There are 92,000 foreclosure cases pending, according to the courts.
Last month, court officials said they would make judges available to resolve issues arising during conferences. Attorneys for homeowners have complained that lenders send representatives to the conferences who have no authority to make decisions (NYLJ, May 2).
Court officials are hoping to have the judges in place later this month, spokesman David Bookstaver said.
The new legislation still must be approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.