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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Washington Enacts Foreclosure Law Requiring Contact With Borrowers Before Filing Notice of Default

State Issues

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire recently signed a bill, SB 5810, prohibiting trustees, beneficiaries, or authorized agents from filing a notice of default until at least 30 days after contacting the borrower or attempting with due diligence to contact the borrower. The new contact requirements apply only to deeds of trust made from January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2007 that are recorded against owner-occupied residential real property. Under the new law, a trustee or beneficiary must contact or diligently attempt to contact the borrower by letter and by telephone in order to assess the borrower’s financial ability to pay the debt secured by the deed of trust and explore options for the borrower to avoid foreclosure. Any notice of default subsequently filed must include a declaration stating that contact was made or diligently attempted. In addition, the new law requires trustees, prior to recording a notice of sale with respect to residential real property, to have proof that the beneficiary is the owner of any promissory note or other obligation secured by the deed of trust. Lastly, the new law provides that a tenant or subtenant in possession of a residential real property at the time the property is sold in foreclosure must be given sixty days’ written notice to vacate before the tenant or subtenant may be removed from the property. The bill becomes effective July 26, 2009. The provisions regarding contact with a borrower in default are set to expire on December 31, 2012