Reported on May 24, the Connecticut state House of Representatives approved a bill that provides homeowners facing foreclosure with more protections and better treatment from banks.

After a 135-0 vote in the House of Representatives, the bill was passed along to the state Senate. Should the bill pass in that branch, it would compound to Connecticut’s existing mediation program that essentially mitigates the rate of foreclosure by preventing people from losing their homes.

With the existing mediation program, should the bill become law, homeowners and bank officials would be required to mediate in good faith or face potential consequences: fines or dismissing the foreclosure action. The bill, as well, would help reduce delays and the amount of paperwork that must be filled out; block homeowners from getting served with foreclosure-related lawsuits; and make foreclosing abandoned properties easier.

Connecticut already faces higher-than-average foreclosure rates compared to the rest of the country. With rates particularly high in Fairfield County, the increase has been attributed to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and a backlog of foreclosures.

The recent news stems from a bill Gov. Malloy introduced late in January 2013 to combat banks’ delaying tactics, such as sending mediators who cannot negotiate a deal or different representatives to meetings. His proposal at the time specified that banks could only send qualified professionals to mediations or face fines for not complying. Overall, the changes would streamline mediation without further pushing the homeowner toward foreclosure.

At the time of proposal, Attorney General George Jepsen told the press: “(Foreclosure) can cause significant distress to families. Our goal is to help people stay in their homes as long as possible. Homeowners, mortgage holders and neighborhoods all benefit when properties remain occupied and are not abandoned because of foreclosure.”