Council proposes laws to protect homeowner

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, along with a handful of elected officials and housing advocates, announced a bill on Friday, January 16 aimed at cracking down on those attempting to take advantage of homeowners facing foreclosure.
The Council’s legislation would require licensing or registration of distressed property consultants, thereby weeding out what Quinn called the “bad apples” from the credible organizations that seek to assist homeowners in trouble. The bill would make it a crime to operate without a license, while prohibiting the licensing of anyone convicted of real estate-related fraud. Additionally, the bill would create the ability to track property consultants and prevent repeat offenders from continuing to prey on homeowners.
Announcing the bill at a City Hall press conference, Quinn said that certain organizations, “the lowest of the low, are preying on people in impossible situations by offering services they have no intention of delivering.” The proposed legislation, she said, would bring much needed regulation to the industry. “People facing foreclosure need a helping hand, not a stab in the back,” Quinn added.
The bill, if passed into law, would augment recently enacted state legislation that requires specific disclosures from foreclosure consultants before they perform services, prevents them from accepting payment prior to completing those services and imposes fines on violators.
Calling his district the city’s “ground zero” of the foreclosure crisis, Councilmember Leroy Comrie, Chair of the Council’s Consumer Affairs Committee, underscored the importance of developing and passing the legislation quickly. He said his district in southeast Queens - the part of town hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis - has “swarms of unscrupulous so-called ‘mortgage advisers.’ ”
Michael Hickey, Executive Director of the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, said the “legislation will be a powerful tool in helping to stop the scams and rip-offs of vulnerable people in a desperate hour.”

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