Mortgage Modification Bill Stalls in the Senate

In early March, we posted a couple of blogs relating to proposed federal legislation that would significantly impact a homeowner association’s ability to collect past-due assessments from a homeowner undergoing foreclosure.  Within days of my post calling for homeowners to contact their Congresspersons, I was contacted by an aid to a Tennessee Congressman wondering what all the fuss was with the H.R. 1106 (“Helping Families Save their Home Act of 2009” ).  After several emails and a lengthy telephone conversation, I explained the adverse impact of the bill.  Today, having passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, the bill is stalled in the Senate.

The following is an update from the Community Association Institute’s (“CAI”) website:

President Obama’s mortgage modification bill, H.R. 1106 passed the House of Representatives on March 5, 2009 by a vote of 234 to 191 with 7 members of congress not voting. The legislation is currently before the U.S. Senate for consideration where passage is far from certain. H.R. 1106 and its Senate companion bill S. 61 will need 60 votes to pass the Senate in order to avoid the filibuster promised by the bill’s opponents. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a vote as sponsors continue to seek enough votes for passage. Right now, a vote is not expected before Easter.

Click here for the bill’s status.

Part of the President’s plan to stabilize the housing markets, H.R. 1106 would allow federal courts to reform mortgages in cases where a homeowner’s property is worth less than their principle mortgage balance. It would give bankruptcy judges the ability to ‘cram down’ the principal balance and monthly payments, wiping out tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars of money owed in an effort to keep more people in their homes and to stabilize the housing market. CAI’s concern continues to be to protect associations’ ability to collect for past due assessments and to make sure that this legislation does not inadvertently bypass state assessment lien or priority lien statutes.

CAI was able to start a constructive dialogue with key House and Senate leaders on the potential impact of mortgage modification on associations ability to collect past due assessments. Thanks to the many persons who contacted their legislators, we believe that positive progress is being made in crafting a bill that provides support to those who need it and doesn’t create the risk of harming additional homeowners or their associations. Specifically, H.R. 1106 was amended in an attempt to clarify what costs need to be included in the post bankruptcy payment. This formula now specifically includes association assessments. House and Senate leaders are listening to our concerns regarding protecting associations and by extension homeowners.

Barker Martin, P.S. will continue to monitor the status of the bill, and other federal and state legislation affecting homeowners and homeowner associations.

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