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Major Class Actions to Protect L.A. Homeowners from PACE Loans

Los Angeles County Homeowners Allege That "Green" Loans Are Predatory

These lawsuits are about “Property Assessed Clean Energy” (PACE) loans made by the County of Los Angeles. PACE is meant to help low- and moderate-income households make home improvements that will help the environment and lower energy their costs. The lawsuits allege that the County’s PACE program harmed many homeowners by making loans that people could not afford to repay. Instead of getting “green” homes, the plaintiffs may lose their homes to foreclosure.

The County hired two companies to implement its PACE program. Those companies are also defendants in the lawsuits: Renovate America does business under the brand name “HERO” and Renew Financial does business under the brand name “California First.”

Key documents

·         The press release is available here,

·         Frequently Asked Questions are available here,

·         The complaint against the County and Renovate America (Case No. BC701810) is available here,

·         The complaint against the County and Renew Financial (Case No. BC701809) is available here.

That’s exactly what happened to me—what should I do?

If you believe that you may be a class member, you should preserve all the documents that could support your claim. That means contracts, emails, text messages, bills and anything else relating to:

·         The contractor you worked with,

·         The work that was done (or not done),

·         The Renovate America/HERO or Renew Financial/California First financing,

·         Your property taxes, and

·         Your income and debts at the time of the contract(s).

If possible, you should also speak to an attorney. You may not be a class member, or your deadlines to file your own lawsuit may expire while these lawsuits are pending, which means you could lose your right to file an action if these lawsuits are not certified as class actions or are unsuccessful.

Even if these lawsuits are successful, you may have individual claims (such as fraud) that are not part of these class actions.

If you would like to speak to an attorney (for free), please make an appointment to attend a Public Counsel clinic by calling 213 385 2977 ext. 305. We have clinics at Los Angeles Public Libraries twice a month. We are in South Los Angeles on the first Tuesday of each month, and in Boyle Heights on the third Tuesday of each month. Click here for more information.

I want to take action

Here are some things you can do without a lawyer:

·         File a complaint with the Contractor’s State License Board. Be as specific as possible in your complaint, and send supporting documents.

·         Write to your County Supervisor, and your state and federal representatives. Try to be thorough but concise.

·         Write to or file a complaint with the California Attorney General and/or the Department of Business Oversight.

·         File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB is not currently handling PACE issues, but they are interested in it. By filing a complaint, you will send a message that they need to accept complaints about PACE.

·         If you can afford to pay a lawyer, a good way to find one who knows about home improvement contracts and PACE financing is through the Los Angeles County Bar Association at (213) 243-1525 or the Beverly Hills Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service (which is free if you use the online form) or you can call (310) 601-2440.