BY: CARRIE BAY DSNEWS 4/29/2010
Two House Democrats have introduced a bill to create a “right to rent” for homeowners facing foreclosure.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Arizona) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), would allow a family receiving a foreclosure notice to petition a judge to stay in their home as renters under a 5-year lease. The judge would appoint an independent appraiser to set fair market rental value, which would be allowed to rise with inflation.
In a statement to the press, Grijalva cited the latest market data from RealtyTrac, which showed that foreclosure activity nationwide rose by 19 percent in March, setting a new monthly record of 367,000 filings. RealtyTrac also found that for the first three months of 2010, foreclosures are up by 60 percent compared to 2009 and roughly 6 million mortgages are at least 60 days delinquent.
Grijalva called the latest statistics “an indication of the profound, historic crisis we face and the need for creative solutions like Right to Rent. I call on the rest of Congress to take a hard look at why we’ve allowed things to get this bad,” he said.
According to Grijalva, the administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) just isn’t doing enough to keep pace with the nation’s mortgage problems. Between February and March, the number of people who received assistance through HAMP but subsequently became delinquent again nearly doubled from 1,499 to 2,879.
“HAMP is simply an insufficient response to this crisis,” Grijalva said. “Right to Rent is a fair and sensible solution for struggling homeowners. Banks will still get reliable rental income, and families will be able to stay in their homes and significantly lower their monthly housing costs.”
Grijalva called the terms of the bill (H.R. 5028) “a workable and equitable compromise for lenders, families, and communities.”
He said, “Passing this bill will help neighborhoods avoid the spiral of decay, crime, and lower property values that often follows mass vacancies without creating any new bureaucracy or transferring a dime of taxpayer money to homeowners or banks.”
To prevent use of the program by speculators, eligibility for the “right to rent” initiative would be limited to homes purchased at or below the median price for their metropolitan statistical area, and must have been the homeowner’s principal residence for no less than 2 years, Grijalva explained. Only mortgages originated before July 1, 2007 would be eligible.