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Interim Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum makes lending protections official

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July 26, 2012

By Maresa Strano

Oregon

SALEM, Oregon: On July 23, 2012, Ellen Rosenblum (D) flexed her new attorney general muscles when she ordered the permanent adoption of temporary rules for shielding consumers from predatory lending practices. The rules were put in place by Rosenblum's recently resigned predecessor John Kroger in February against the backdrop of the landmark $25 billion, 49-state mortgage settlement with five of the largest (and guiltiest of wrongful foreclosures) lending institutions in the country.[1]

Rosenblum's decision was hailed as a sensible, Oregon-centric approach to a complex issue that could have easily been treated with a cumbersome - "one-size-fits-all" - dose of reform measures derived too literally from the nationwide settlement. The decision to enact the rules after a successful trial run was intended to ensure the trend toward codifying a safer climate for borrowers initiated by the settlement continues in Oregon.[2]

The Department of Justice will also re-activate its survey effort to collect feedback from the public on how the new rules are working, and to see if any problems persist as the changes are "digested and the foreclosure mediation program fully implemented."[2] Rosenblum inherited a state on the cusp of rebound, albeit still in precarious condition; the mortgage and foreclosure crisis four years ago devastated Oregon's housing market. Today, Oregonians are defaulting on their mortgages at a rate of 1,400 a month.[2]

"We appreciate the input we received in the rulemaking process and we are committed to continuing discussions so we have rules that protect Oregon homeowners, while providing clear guidance to loan servicers," Rosenblum said in the department's official press release.[1]

The rules "place no new obligations on local banks and credit unions but make it unlawful for a mortgage loan servicer to fail to deal with a borrow in good faith," in addition to five other matters of conduct which violate the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act, which dates back to the 1970's.[1]

A detailed explication of the newly adopted mortgage loan rules can be viewed on the Oregon Department of Justice Website.

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