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Florida House Bill 87 Would Gut Consumer Foreclosure Rights

Under the guise of speeding up the foreclosure process in Florida after a two-year lull caused by the robo-signing scandal, legislation has been proposed that would ultimately serve to aid the banks in heisting homes without proper documentation.

Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers understand that House Bill 87, which has yet to be given a formal name, would serve up a host of changes to the civil procedure that governs foreclosures in this state – where we now stand with the highest rate of foreclosures in the country after a 20 percent jump last year.

This is actually the third time these changes have been proposed; they were outright rejected the last time amid concerns that consumers and homeowners would be harmed. The last time the bill came before the House last year, there was a march on the state Capitol. As we’ve seen before, when the banks try to accelerate the process, it seems to be everyone else who suffers.

Proponents of the bill, namely Naples Republican Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, purport that this will free Florida courts from the prospect of being bogged down with foreclosure litigation for the next several years. As it stands right now, the average foreclosure in this state takes roughly 600 days to process. (Collier County residents would do well to make a note of where Rep. Passidomo’s has place her allegiance, and act accordingly during the next election).

Wanting to speed the process is understandable, but the problem is, when we hit the gas on these cases, crucial details get overlooked – and this is where the state ran into major problems before. Although the bill contains provisions for ensuring that banks have the proper paperwork (which was a huge part of the problem in the wake of the housing market implosion) the time constraints that this bill would require would all but ensure errors would be made or overlooked.

As it’s written, House Bill 87, which would amend s. 2.95.11, F.S., would reportedly do the following:

  • Revise the limitation period for commencing action to enforce a claim of deficiency judgment after a foreclosure action;
  • Specify required contents of a complaint seeking to foreclose on certain types of residential properties, with respect to the authority of the plaintiff to foreclose on the note and the location of the note;
  • Provide for non-applicability to proceedings involving timeshares;
  • Require a court to treat a collateral attack on a final judgment of foreclosure on a mortgage as a claim for monetary damages under certain circumstances;
  • Prohibit the court from granting certain relief affecting title to the foreclosed property;
  • Limit the amount of a deficiency judgment;
  • Revise the class of persons authorized to move for expedited foreclosure to include lienholders.

That’s a lot of jargon, but it essentially amounts to expanded rights for the banks in order to speed up the entire process. Efforts to fast-track foreclosures in certain districts, such as Miami, have been met with grave concern regarding the rights of homeowners, which are trampled when courts force speedy resolutions and give banks the benefit of the doubt.

Even the Miami Herald referred to the bill as a “bit of a gift” to the banks. In the example cited, if a lender forecloses on a home and is later sued for doing so wrongfully, the lender can only be forced to pay monetary damages, meaning the homeowner can’t get his or her home back, which would be tough anyway as the homes by that point have often been resold to third parties. This bill would free the bank from having to recoup the home after a faulty foreclosure.

One in five mortgages in Florida are reportedly delinquent, and more than half of those have yet to enter the foreclosure process.

Our Miami foreclosure lawyers recognize that the courts are eager to dispose of the glut of foreclosure cases in our state. However, doing so at the expense of the rights of thousands of homeowners is not the answer. We would encourage you to contact your representatives in the Florida house, and let them know you do not support House Bill 87.

If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Legal for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on “Mortgage Wars,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.

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