The Senate press Release regarding the Title Clearing Bill appears below — I was pleased to support this bill in the vote today.
Senate Passes Bill to Protect Homeowners
BOSTON – The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation to restore the titles of foreclosed properties after thousands of foreclosure sales in Massachusetts were determined to be void as the result of recent state Supreme Judicial Court decisions.
“This issue affects the real buyer of a property and negatively impacts the real estate market as a whole,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “Some residents are without a clear title to their home because of potential procedural errors that took place many years ago. The bill passed today will restore the titles of affected homes and support a healthy real estate market in the Commonwealth.”
“This legislation represents an important next step in our efforts to support the housing market’s continuing recovery,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said. “It will provide certainty and predictability to property owners, and important consumer protections to those that may have been wrongfully foreclosed. In particular, we appreciate the leadership of Senate President Murray and the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Michael Moore, in advancing this important piece of legislation.”
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) said, “Thousands of people have purchased foreclosed properties fulfilling their dream of becoming a homeowner. When these owners go to sell or refinance, they are shocked to learn their titles are void. This bill protects home owners of foreclosed properties from being unable to sell or refinance their homes due to issues with the title.”
“This bill will provide needed legislative relief to Massachusetts homeowners who currently lack clear title to their homes due to prior faulty foreclosures,” Senator Anthony Petruccelli (D-East Boston) said. “I am appreciative of the careful thought and consideration my colleagues in the Senate gave this bill today, and I am confident that it will further encourage a robust recovery in the Commonwealth’s housing market.”
The state Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a foreclosure is void if the foreclosing lender could not produce a written assignment of its mortgage prior to the first publication of notice. If this occurred at any time in the chain of the title, the current purchaser of the property is left without a clear title as a result.
This bill will allow the affidavit that is recorded during the sale of the property to serve as conclusive evidence that the foreclosing lender is in compliance unless the foreclosure has been challenged within three years of its recording. Under current law, the affidavit can be rebutted by other evidence that shows the foreclosing lender was not in compliance.
In addition, this bill will provide a reasonable timeframe for those who have been improperly foreclosed on to assert their rights to ensure that borrowers continue to be protected from unlawful foreclosures.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.