The U.S. Treasury Department is considering a plan to improve the chance that distressed home owners will get help from federal programs.

Among other things, Treasury proposes to give borrowers 30 days to respond when they are denied a loan modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). During that time, the lender couldn't auction off the property or even put it up for sale.

The proposal would demand that lenders consider all requests and even contact all borrowers who are 60 days delinquent to determine if they qualify for HAMP. Their contact efforts would have to include multiple telephone and written notices. Lenders would also be required to certify in writing that the borrower isn't eligible.

Lenders say these guidelines would further slow the foreclosure process past the year that it takes now.

A Treasury spokesperson says the guidelines are only in the proposal stage and haven't been approved.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, James R. Hagerty, and Associated Press, Alan Zibel