Governor Phil Murphy signed on April 29, 2019 new laws to address New Jersey foreclosure Crisis. These new laws will help New Jerseyans struggling with the state’s highest-in-the-nation foreclosure rate. The new laws will assist homeowners facing the prospect of foreclosure and pave the way for community revival by addressing blight. Many of the measures were recommended in a September 2018 report by the Special Committee on Residential Foreclosures, which was created by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner.
“The foreclosure crisis has hurt our economy and jeopardized economic security of too many New Jersey families,” said Governor Murphy. “Our communities cannot succeed while vacant or foreclosed homes sit empty or while families live in limbo. I am proud to sign these bills into law today and get New Jersey closer to ending the foreclosure crisis.”
Among the new laws, Governor Murphy signed A664, which codifies the Judiciary’s Foreclosure Mediation Program into law, creating a long-term, permanent program that will not only increase the number of people entering mediation, but also ensure that homeowners receive housing counseling assistance to help provide them with the best possible outcomes in the foreclosure process.
“The foreclosure crisis hit the families of Atlantic County harder than almost any county in the nation. These bills offer a better path for the region and hope for families in despair,” said Special Counsel Jim Johnson. “It’s a vital and important step forward.”
Another important law is S3464 which requires the sheriff to conduct a foreclosure sale within 120 days of the sheriff’s receipt of a writ of execution, instead of scheduling a closing sale within that time frame, as currently provided by the act. The bill also allows the Office of Foreclosure within the Administrative Office of the Courts to issue an order to appoint a Special Master to hold foreclosure sales for one or more properties within a vicinage. The bill also clarifies that, to convey the foreclosed property to the purchaser from the sheriff’s sale, the plaintiff’s attorney is required to prepare, and the sheriff’s office is required to use, the standard form of deed that is set forth in the “Fair Foreclosure Act.”
Perhaps most important, the bill also revises the statute that governs the process for adjournments in connection with sales of real estate by virtue of an execution. The bill provides that a sheriff or other officer conducting the sale may make up to four adjournments, two at the request of the lender and two at the request of the debtor, instead of the total of two adjournments that the statute currently allows. The bill provides that these adjournments shall not exceed 30 calendar days each, instead of the 14 calendar days currently provided for in the statute. As currently provided in the statute, a court of competent jurisdiction may, for cause, make further adjournments.
The Governor signed the following nine bills into law:
- A664 – Codifies the Judiciary’s Foreclosure Mediation Program; dedicates monies from foreclosure filing fees and fines.
- A4997 – “Mortgage Servicers Licensing Act.”
- A4999 – Requires filing of certain creditor contact information with residential mortgage foreclosure complaint and lis pendens.
- A5001 – Revises statute of limitations for residential mortgage foreclosures.
- A5002 – Permits certain planned real estate developments to file certain liens; concerns limited priority of certain liens.
- S3411 – Requires receivership appointment application prior to certain foreclosure actions; requires notice of intention to foreclosure on residential mortgage to be filed within 180 days prior to commencing foreclosure; limits reinstatements of dismissed mortgage foreclosure actions.
- S3413 – Makes certain changes to summary action foreclosure process under “Fair Foreclosure Act.”
- S3416 – Clarifies that “New Jersey Residential Mortgage Lending Act” applies to certain out-of-state persons and involved in residential mortgage lending in the State.
- S3464 – Revises certain procedures for real estate foreclosure sales; alters adjournment of sale process.
The change in the adjournment time from 14 to 30 for each of the two adjournments available to homeowners provides for additional time often vital to helping save their homes at the last minute prior to a sheriff sale.
For more information on adjourning a sheriff sale, see my article How to Stop or Adjourn A Sheriff Sale in New Jersey and for more information and other articles in my sheriff sale series see Sheriff Sale Help.