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National Consumer Law Center Warns of Fewer Rights to Homeowners Thanks to Antiquated State Laws

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RISMEDIA, February 25, 2009-The nationwide foreclosure surge that has driven millions of Americans from their homes has been fueled by little-discussed and poorly understood “antiquated state laws” that favor banks and other lenders and deny basic protections to homeowners. That’s the main conclusion of a new report from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) that will be issued on Thursday.

The report, which examines the laws that govern mortgage foreclosures in the 50 states, concludes that many states give renters facing eviction more rights than homeowners facing foreclosure.

Examples of the “homeowner unfriendly” provisions on the books in most states include:

- nearly 30 states that allow mortgage holders who allege that homeowners have fallen behind in their payments to move directly to take away and auction off homes, without any involvement by a court or any impartial decision-maker;
- all but two states allow mortgage holders to move directly to foreclosure without being required by state law to consider or discuss ways to avoid home loss, such as through modification of the terms of the loan;
- and all but three states put no obligation on the mortgage holder to give homeowners a chance to catch up on missed payments before often crushing legal fees and foreclosure costs make that impossible.

Among other anti-homeowner provisions cited in the report are in more than 40 states with no requirement that homeowners be personally served with a foreclosure notice or legal documents that start a court foreclosure case.

News event speakers will include:

- John Rao and Geoffry Wash, staff attorneys, National Consumer Law Center;

- George McCarthy, senior program officer, The Ford Foundation;

- A homeowner from Arkansas who was victimized by antiquated state foreclosure laws.

The NCLC report breaks down each problem provision by state. It also details recommended state-level legal reforms to address the problem of the antiquated and “homeowner unfriendly” laws.

A streaming audio replay of the news event will be available on the Web at http://www.consumerlaw.org as of 4 p.m. ET on February 26, 2009.

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