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Task force tackles state’s foreclosure ills

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A state task force considering ways to help address Hawaii’s growing foreclosure problem met yesterday for the first time, with some members saying changes are needed to laws governing how foreclosures are handled here.

The 17-member panel represents a diverse set of interests, from lender associations to consumer advocacy groups.

The Legislature created the panel to, among other things, recommend whether the process for doing so-called nonjudicial foreclosures — those conducted without court oversight — needs amending.

Nonjudicial foreclosures, which occur more quickly than those done judicially, have become the most common method by far for lenders to take back homes because of mortgage defaults. The law used to do such foreclosures dates to 1874.

Many homeowners say the nonjudicial process is unfair, and even some industry groups argue that the laws need tweaking.

"Nobody defends the current statutes," attorney Steven Guttman, a task force member who represents the collection law group of the Hawaii State Bar Association, told fellow panel members. "They do need to be refined."

The task force is supposed to make recommendations to the Legislature before the 2011 and 2012 sessions.

Reaching a consensus could be a challenge for the group, given the differing perspectives between lender and consumer organizations.

The task force’s next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 31.


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