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TRENTON, N.J. – The “New Jersey Home Equity Protection Act” that concerns “the regulation of certain financial practices and prohibiting certain abusive and predatory lending practices” was introduced by state Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-39) Nov. 14 and was referred to the state Senate Commerce Committee. Provisions of the bill, states the text of the measure, “target lenders who purposefully engage in patterns and practices of unfair treatment to vulnerable consumers, particularly those in distressed urban areas.” Provisions of S-2051 apply to any mortgage loan for less than $300,000. Among the provisions, the bill prohibits: *a scheduled payment that is more than twice as large as the average of earlier scheduled monthly payments unless the balloon payment comes due and payable not less than 15 years after the date of the loan; *inclusion of a call provision that allows the lender, in its sole discretion, to accelerate the indebtedness; *a payment schedule with regular periodic payments that cause the principal balance to increase; *any increase in the interest rate due to a default; *terms under which any periodic payments are paid in advance from the loan proceeds. The bill also establishes extensive limitations on the use of prepayment fees, and imposes strict limitations on late payment fees. It also requires the Department of Banking and Insurance to set up and promote a toll-free hotline telephone number to receive consumer complaints on abusive and predatory lending practices.

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