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Squatters in Paradise… Dogs on the Loose – What is the Solution?

Mahalo to Pahoa Community Police Officer Pacheco for helping to secure this building that has been an ongoing problem with squatters, homelessness and drugs here in Pahoa for the last few years.

BEFORE:

Photo by Sean King

Photo by Sean King

AFTER:

After the police secured the building

After the police secured the building

We have a serious problem here in Puna and that is that folks are just taking over houses that are foreclosed and there is nothing the local police can do.  Here is an example of a recent letter I received with some things cut out to ensure their privacy:

Aloha Neighbors,

I know everyone is quite busy, so I will keep this as concise as I can.

I thought I would keep you abreast of a few issues that have happened in your neighborhood.  BTW, thank you for keeping me in the loop with other concerns happening in our neighborhood, past or present.

#1.  There has been squatters that have moved in the house on Kula Street. Some of you may know this as (edited) old place.

What I can tell you is this:

-They have established electricity

– The police can not do anything since it is a civil matter, not criminal.

-Chase Bank owns the house, and is paying the taxes on it.

– The Leilani Community Association can not do anything to help in this regard per advise of there consult with an attorney.

-The owner is the only one who can order these people to leave.

-Chase bank is not very forthcoming about taking possession of the house since there are at lease $40k in liens against the property. (btw, formally foreclosed in 2009 by the court system).

-There are several people that come and go all hours of the day/night.

-I do not want to pursue calling in a drug suspicion, as I do not want any retribution…

-Charlie Stanton, Leilani resident, has been kind to patrol the streets of Leilani as Neighborhood Watch, and knows of this matter and has even taken photos of a few cars as they have drove by and decided not to stop at the house as he was present.  Thank you Charlie.

Has anyone else been faced with this kind of issue or maybe can shed some light on this matter? Maybe an elected official?

And,

#2.  On Friday, June 7th, (EDIT) roughtweiler attacked my dog in our front yard. I have asked her repeatedly to keep her dog restrained.  I have filed a police report in regard to this issue and my dog will need an expensive surgery to walk normal again.  The police have filed this as a vicious dog claim. The officer who reported to the call is Officer C. Arnold. He said to call the Humane Society every time I see the dog out of the owners yard.  The Humane Society said that every photograph of the violation will result in a fine. As many of you may know, this is not the first time I have had to deal with a vicious dog issue on my property.

Thank you for taking the time to read over the information in this email. If you have insight or know of a good resources to tap for more info to move either of these issues forward, I would be very happy to hear about them.  Also, if you would like to connect this email to others in our neighborhood who may want to know about this matter, please do so.

Stay safe and have a fantastic Friday!

So with that being said… does anyone have any advice?

Hawaii State Obtains Judgment Against Individual in Mortgage Rescue Fraud Case

The State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affair’s (“DCCA”) Office of Consumer Protection (“OCP”) on Friday obtained a judgment against Sean Keala Remos (“Remos”) and Loan Network Honolulu LLC aka Loan Network Honolulu LLC (“Loan Network”). The judgment prohibits Remos and Loan Network from violating Hawaii’s consumer protection laws, requires them to pay back consumers and imposes civil penalties of $10,000.

DCCA Logo

OCP’s lawsuit alleged that Remos acted as distressed property consultant and promised to help distressed homeowners obtain loan modifications. He collected upfront fees from the homeowners and failed to get loan modifications or provide refunds.

“Homeowners should think twice when approached by anyone offering to save their home from foreclosure and asking you for payment upfront. It’s generally illegal under state and federal law to charge an upfront fee to save your house from foreclosure,” said Bruce Kim, OCP’s Executive Director. “You can obtain the same help at no charge by contacting a certified housing counselor. Housing counselors work for non-profit agencies and are trained to help homeowners who find themselves in this situation.”

If you are behind on your mortgage or facing foreclosure, you may be targeted by a Mortgage rescue scam. These mortgage rescue “professionals” use half-truths and deceptive tactics to sell services that promise relief to homeowners in distress.

If you are looking for foreclosure prevention help, avoid any business that:

  • Promises they can stop the foreclosure process, no matter your circumstances
  • Instructs you not to contact your lender, lawyer or HUD approved credit or housing counselor
  • Collects a fee before providing any services
  • Recommends that you stop making your mortgage paymentsRecommends that you make your mortgage payments directly to it, rather than your lender
  • Pressures you to sign papers you haven ’t had a chance to read or that you don’t Understand Violations of Hawaii’s Mortgage Rescue

Fraud Prevention Act and the laws prohibiting unfair and deceptive trade practices subject offending parties to fines ranging from $500 to $10,000 per violation.

Act 183, signed into law by Governor Neil Abercrombie on June 28, 2012, makes violations of the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act a class C felony with a mandatory $10,000 fine.

Anyone who believes they have been victimized by a mortgage rescue scam, whether by the above Defendants or any other business, and have not filed a complaint with the OCP may call 587-3222.

Certified housing counseling agencies in Hawaii provide advice on defaults, foreclosures and credit issues for free.  You can locate a certified Hawaii housing counselor by contacting the Hawaii Foreclosure Information Center at  http://HFIC.Hawaii.gov or call 587-3222, toll free at 1-800-394-1902.

The Hawaii Foreclosure Information Center is a free public information service operated by DCCA. Lisa Tong, a senior staff attorney at the Office of Consumer Protection, represented the State on the case.

Hawaii Foreclosure Reform Bill Passes Final Floor Vote

House Bill 1875 HD2 SD2 CD1, amending the mortgage foreclosure law to provide additional protections for Hawaii’s homeowners, passed its final floor vote before the full House and Senate today with a combined vote of 73 Ayes and 3 Noes.

“Once again, we won one for the homeowners, and I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Rep. Robert Herkes (District 5 – Puna, Ka’u, South Kona, North Kona) who serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.  “The bill we passed last year had its critics, but our primary focus has always on helping and protecting the homeowner.”

Last Session, Governor Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 651 into law as Act 48 to protect Hawaii owner-occupants from predatory tactics of financial lending institutions.

The mortgage foreclosure task force – a legislatively created group composed of stakeholders with diverse interests including consumer advocates and professionals representing and affected by the mortgage industry, did a thorough, comprehensive analysis of Act 48.  Their recommendations to refine Act 48 and to otherwise preserve the intent and spirit of the law were presented in HB1875.

The task force recommended that the legislature:  (1) temper the provision relating to the Unfair Deceptive Acts or Practices (UDAP) law so lenders need not fear UDAP liability for minor violations;  (2) make permanent the process allowing owner-occupants to convert their non-judicial foreclosure to a judicial foreclosure; (3) establish a separate non-judicial foreclosure and lien collection process for associations; (4) give similar rights and obligations to planned community associations; (5) provide specific language for informational notices to the public on the foreclosure process; and (6) provide technical clarifications and improvements of various provisions in Act 48.

The legislature adopted virtually all of the task force recommendations – with a few modifications and further amendments.

The bill fully repeals the Part I non-judicial process which was the mechanism used to non-judicially foreclose on homeowners before its moratorium under Act 48.

Under HB1875, a comprehensive lien collection and foreclosure process for condominium, homeowner, and planned community associations is established, which is in harmony with Hawaii’s mortgage foreclosure process.

The bill also calls for lenders’ attorneys filing judicial foreclosures on residential property to sign an affirmation stating that she or he verified the bank’s legal standing as well as the accuracy of the documents submitted to court.  This requirement is akin to a court rule that has been applied to all judicial foreclosures in New York State.

The publication requirements for auction notices will also be revised to encourage competitive pricing while balancing the need for broad dissemination of auction information.

State agencies will also be authorized to publish auction notices electronically for a significantly lower price than print notices; so long as one print notice (as opposed to three) is published at least two weeks prior to an auction sale.  The DCCA will spearhead this effort by creating a website for property subject to the dispute resolution program.

House Bill 1875 also makes the dispute resolution program permanent.

HB1875 may be viewed at:

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=1875

Hawaii Foreclosures Up 229% From 2007

…There were 3,346 home foreclosure filings in Hawaii in 2008, up 229 percent over 2007, and the state’s ranking in foreclosures per household jumped from 43rd in 2007 to 34th in 2008…

More here