After many months of negotiations and revisions among members of the State Legislature and the Governor’s office, it has been announced that Assemblyman Gary Schaer’s bill, designed to protect homeowners facing foreclosure from unscrupulous consultants, has been signed into law.
The "Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act." was initially introduced by Schaer in response to distressed homeowners who were swindled out of their remaining savings by consultants who pretended to offer assistance in keeping their homes and the few resources they had left. An original version of the bill was conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie and was sent back to the Legislature for revisions. According to the Democratic Legislative office, the revised bill, A-359, is a “revamped measure that will help protect homeowners from unscrupulous foreclosure consultants without strangling the real estate market.”
Assembly members John J. Burzichelli, Bonnie Watson Coleman and Wayne P. DeAngelo also served as primary sponsors of the bill A Senate version, S-1651, was sponsored by Shirley Turner. and Brian Stack, with Robert Gordon, Linda Greenstein, and Teresa Ruiz serving as co-sponsors.
According to the new law, foreclosure consultants will be required to adhere to standards and practices that will prevent fraudulent activities that in the past have left distressed homeowner as unprotected victims. According to the bill:
“Foreclosure consultant": (1) means any person, located out-of-State or within the State, who, directly or indirectly, for compensation from an owner, makes any solicitation, representation, or offer to perform, or who performs, any distressed property service that the person represents will in any manner do any of the following in relation to the owner’s distressed property:
As Assemblyman Schaer has pointed out, "Faced with the prospect of becoming homeless, many New Jersey homeowners are turning to foreclosure consultants and foreclosure rescue firms in a last-ditch effort to stay in their homes...Unfortunately, some of the firms are nothing more than fronts for elaborate schemes to rob troubled homeowners of their hard-bought equity."