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Assembly Bills Tackling Mortgage Discrimination and Foreclosure Practices in New Jersey Approved by Legislative Panel

Bills Sponsored by Assembly members Mosquera & Coughlin

An Assembly panel released two bills on Thursday that would address concerns of mortgage discrimination and foreclosure practices by prohibiting discrimination based on familial status and revising the Fair Foreclosure Act.

One bill (A-1195), sponsored by Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, prohibits depository institutions that make mortgage loans in this state from discriminating against any person in making available a mortgage loan, or in terms or conditions of a mortgage loan, because of the person’s familial status.

The bill defines “familial status” as being the natural parent of a child, the adoptive parent of a child, the resource family parent of a child, having a “parent and child relationship” with a child as defined by state law, or having sole or joint legal or physical custody, care, guardianship, or visitation with a child, or any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of 14.

“No one should be denied or delayed loans because of their familial status,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “As long as the candidate is qualified for the loan, whether or not they have children or are on maternity leave or expanding their families, should not be considered as part of the loan application process.”

Another bill (A-4369), sponsored by Assemblyman Craig J. Coughlin, revises the “Fair Foreclosure Act” in two ways:
1) specifies that a notice of intention to foreclose, which currently must be sent at least 30 days in advance of a residential mortgage lender commencing foreclosure or other legal action to take possession of a residential property, should not be sent more than 90 days in advance of taking that action.
2) creates a private right action for any violation of the act’s provisions; a person may bring an action in Superior Court against a residential mortgage lender for any violation of the Act for actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater, attorney’s fees, costs of suit and appropriate equitable relief.

“Foreclosure can be a long, daunting process for a homeowner. By narrowing the timeframe of the notice required to be provided to a debtor to fall between 30 and 90 days, we can help to move the process along,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Additionally, residents should have the right of recourse in the event that a mortgage lender violates their rights.”

Both measures were released by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further review.