Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Roger Dickinson Just Lost Two Votes

Our local State Senate race has two major candidates, both presently serving in the State Assembly.  I had planned to vote for Roger Dickinson over Richard Pan, simply because Dickinson was one of 13 to vote for a bill that would have protected tenants against nefarious lenders who were trying to evict tenants in foreclosed properties.  But by voting for AB 1513 he's lost all his tenants' rights' cred and then some.

AB 1513 takes away the tenant protections of the Homeowners' Bill of Rights.  It allows a landlord to evict tenants who are allegedly "squatting" without benefit of court hearing, simply on the declaration of the landlord. The tenant has no way to show that she is a legitimate tenant except by obtaining a statement from the landlord who is trying to evict her.  Huh?

The five of you who actually read my blog (three of whom are relatives) will recall that I have been dealing with tenants in foreclosed properties for a long time (since the end of 2007) and have heard from legions of tenants who suffered abuse at the hands of of lenders, as well as abuse by those who purchased foreclosed properties.  Many of them had not done their due diligence--and didn't know that the former owner had rented out the property.  Some of them were just ill-behaved, and thought they could frighten the tenants out of the house.

Worse than just general bad behavior, a tenant with a signed lease has no recourse unless the landlord agrees that the resident is a tenant.  So a foreclosing lender or the purchaser of a foreclosed property can claim that the resident is not a legal tenant, evicting the tenant within 48 hours. Tenants with oral leases are in even more trouble, although in other circumstances, they could prove they were legal tenants.  (Evidence might include utility bills addressed to the tenant, a driver's license showing the address as the tenant's residence and so on.)  But the local constabularies didn't want to have to take on what is essentially a judicial function (examining and verifying documents), so they did the quick and dirty, and assumed that landlords were upstanding citizens and tenants are a bunch of low-lifes who deserve what we get.

And of course, there are no consequences for landlords who evict tenants wrongfully. Judges in California are loath to give tenants damages in disputes with their landlords, and the Legislature has not seen fit (of course) to compensate tenants who might be harmed by, say, requiring that a landlord who was found to have evicted tenants pay them a substantial sum in compensation--I'm thinking in six figures to the left of the decimal point.

There's sure to be Green running.  Vote Green.

Addendum 5/18/14:  Oh, my dear comrades, it gets worse.  Here's how and why. Deutsche Bank lost a case.  In the case at hand the tenant was unceremoniously evicted by Deutsche Bank's loan servicer, Ocwen, with no notice and with the co-operation of the local constabulary.  (The horror of a marriage between Ocwen and Deutsche Bank is a subject for another day, but suffice it to say that the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has gone after Ocwen for its dirty dealing.  Should you want to read up on their bad behavior toward homeowners, go here.)  Would anything stop a foreclosing lender from simply signing the statement that there were no tenants at the property?  That's right--help the banks continue their bad behavior.  Maybe we should just call it the Deutche Bank bill.

In addition, now that property values are moving up, lenders are looking to take back properties, many of them investor-owned, that weren't worth the trouble when the market collapsed.  But they don't want to have to deal with, you know, tenants who live at the property.

Oh, there's no Green running.  Just Vote No.

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