A group of New Jersey Assembly members recently proposed legislation which, they said, is designed to help reduce the number of foreclosures in the state and allow homeowners to keep their homes.
The Union News Daily is reporting that Assembly members Mila Jasey, Jerry Green, Jamel Holley and Elizabeth Muoio have drafted a bill that would codify the state’s Foreclosure Mediation Program, with the goal of improving New Jersey’s housing market. Under the bill, at the time the homeowner receives notice of intention to foreclose, they must also receive notice allowing them the option to take part in the Foreclosure Mediation Program. When the mortgage foreclosure complaint is filed, the homeowner must again receive notice of the option to participate in the program. In addition, the bill would authorize eligible homeowners to submit a request to schedule a mediation session with the lender.
The proposed Assembly bill would also create a dedicated fund within the state’s General Fund known as the “Foreclosure Mediation Fund.” Funding would come from the first $50 from the foreclosure complaint filing fees, plus any fines imposed on lenders who do not comply with the requirements of the mediation program. With filing fees as high as $250, the bill would allow the judicial branch to determine what the maximum filing fee level should be. According to the article, New Jersey collected $2 million from foreclosure filing fees last year.
An article from NJ.com cited data from CoreLogic that, in 2015, New Jersey led the nation in foreclosures. Further, its foreclosure rate was more than twice the national average and the amount of time to complete a foreclosure filing in The Garden State can take up to 18 months — far longer than the U.S. average of 629 days.
“Foreclosures not only affect homeowners, but neighborhoods and the state as a whole,” Jasey said in a statement to the Union News Daily. “Last year, we led the country in foreclosures. The mediation services provided by this program can help homeowners avoid foreclosure and reinvigorate our housing market by reducing our dismal foreclosure rates. It is essential that we keep these services going.”