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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Oregon Passes Loan Modification, Foreclosure Legislation

State Issues

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski recently signed two bills, H.B. 2191 and S.B. 628, pertaining to loan modifications and foreclosures. H.B. 2191 expands Oregon law regulating debt consolidation companies to include the regulation of “debt management services” – including services in connection with loan modifications. Under H.B. 2191, a debt management service is any activity done for consideration where a person (i) receives or offers to receive funds from a consumer for the purpose of distributing the funds among the consumer’s creditors in full or partial payment of the consumer’s debts, (ii) improves or offers to improve a consumer’s credit record, credit history or credit rating, (iii) modifies or offers to modify the terms and conditions of an existing loan or obligation, or (iv) obtains or attempts to obtain a concession from a creditor including, but not limited to, a reduction in the principal, interest, penalties or fees associated with a debt. Among other requirements, debt management service providers must (i) register with the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, (ii) post a surety bond of at least $10,000, and (iii) adhere to certain fee limitations. S.B. 628 requires mortgage creditors to send borrowers a notice whenever a trustee records a notice of default on property subject to a residential trust deed. The required notice must include a form that a borrower may use to request a loan modification. Additionally, S.B. 628 provides the borrower with up to 30 days from when the trustee signs a notice of default to request a loan modification, during which time the trustee cannot initiate foreclosure proceedings. If the borrower opts to pursue a loan modification, the creditor has up to 45 days to approve or deny the request and cannot initiate foreclosure proceedings until a final decision has been made regarding the modification request. Both bills became effective immediately on passage. However, S.B. 628’s loan modification provisions become effective September 29, 2009 and are scheduled for repeal January 2, 2012.