State banking division proposes new regulations aimed at preventing foreclosures

The state is proposing new regulations designed to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Under the state Division of Banks plan, mortgage loan servicers could not initiate foreclosure proceedings in cases where a borrower is already in the process of modifying their loan.

The state agency filed the proposed regulations this week with Secretary of State William Galvin’s office and public comment will be heard later this month.

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As part of the new rules, loan servicers would have to make sure lenders have the right to foreclose and that paperwork is properly prepared. Servicers also would be required to provide borrowers with a “single point of contact” and follow-up in a “timely manner,” the Division of Banks said.

“These enhanced rules continue the Commonwealth’s national leadership on consumer protection, foreclosure prevention, and debt collection oversight,” said Barbara Anthony, undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

If approved by the state after the public comment period, the regulations would supplement legislation signed into by Gov. Deval Patrick in August. The law requires lenders to to consider whether it makes more financial sense to help a delinquent borrower than to seize their home.