MEDIA RELEASE: Justice Center urges lawmakers to protect North Carolina's homes from abusive practices on Tuesday

Homeowners and homebuyers are at risk from shady dealings. Sen. Josh Stein's bill, up for debate tomorrow, would fix that

RALEIGH (May 24) -- Homeowners struggling with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression shouldn't have to worry about scams designed to rob them of hard earned equity in their home or put them in costly contracts that promise but do not deliver homeownership.

The industry lacks even the most basic common-sense regulation on issues like foreclosure rescue scams, "lease option" contracts and contracts for deeds, said Alfred Ripley, head of the NC Justice Center's Consumer Action Network.

This allows consumers to be manipulated into bad deals that devastate families and undermine North Carolina's economic well-being.

"These unscrupulous practices allow a select few to take advantage of hardworking North Carolinians who just want to own their own home," said Ripley. "Without regulation, shady dealings allow people and companies to take advantage of everyday homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage."

A new bill in the North Carolina legislature would protect consumers from these abusive practices.

Senate Bill 1015, the Homeowner and Homebuyer Protection Act, is a "wise and practical way to protect people who own or are looking to purchase a home," said Ripley.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Josh Stein, will come before the House Committee on Financial Institutions this Tuesday, May 25.

This bill would prohibit foreclosure rescue scams, where fly-by-night operations offer to "help" struggling homeowners by robbing them of hard-earned wealth. It would also create reasonable regulation and standards for lease option contracts and contracts for deeds, Ripley said.

"These scams are used to exploit and manipulate families struggling to pay a home loan or families who are having trouble obtaining a loan to purchase a home," said Ripley. "We have to make sure that struggling homeowners and aspiring homebuyers are protected, especially in these economic times."

The NC Justice Center, the NC Housing Coalition, AARP-NC, the AFL-CIO, the NC Attorney General, the NC Real Estate Commission, Self-Help Credit Union, the Center For Responsible Lending, NAACP-NC, the Coalition for Responsible Lending are among the organizations calling on lawmakers to support homeowners by passing the Stein bill.

For more information, contact: Alfred Ripley, NC Justice Center, 919.274.8245; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, 503.551.3615.