California Comes Down Hard on REO Code Violations

California took another big step towards becoming one of the most favorable states in regards to homeowners rights when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Monday forcing owners of foreclosed and vacant homes to maintain the property or face up to a $1,000 fine per day of violation.

The bill is part of the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a slew of new legislation drafted and introduced through state lawmakers with the assistance of California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The latest enacted bill gives local governments the power to impose a fine of up to $1,000 a day for code violations. The local governments must give owners, including banks, at least 14 days to start fixing the alleged violation and 30 days to complete the correction before issuing the fine.

Interestingly, one of the violations includes “not failing to take action to prevent mosquito larvae from growing in standing water or other conditions that create a public nuisance.” This comes after a woman in Studio City, recently diagnosed with the West Nile virus, traced the contraction to mosquitoes breeding in a nearby foreclosure’s neglected swimming pool.

The new bill could be costly for careless owners of these homes. One of the largest owners of REO homes is Fannie Mae, which, according to its latest financial filing, owns more than 10,000 REO properties in California as of June 30.

If an investor or homeowner buys a property that was foreclosed on at any point since Jan. 1, 2008, the local government must give at least 60 days to remedy any violations found since taking title. The law does give room to provide less time “if deemed necessary.”

If you’re an REO expert, RE-Insider would love to hear from you. How are you planning on educating your buyers about the new Homeowners Bill of Rights?