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Florida’s Fast-Track Foreclosure Law Falls Short of Stated Goals

When Florida’s “faster foreclosure” law took effect last July, courts immediately began to see a sharp decline in the number of foreclosures being filed.

The ill-advised law was intended to quickly push foreclosures through the system, in some cases sidestepping borrower due process rights.

Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers believe it should come as little surprise nearly one year later, that there has been a more than 35 percent drop in the number of new foreclosure cases filed.

The reason has to do with the fact that the law requires lenders filing foreclosure to sign an affidavit that attests to the truthfulness of the mortgage note at the time the case is filed. Many have found it difficult or impossible to comply, which is no shocker considering that some of the largest financial institutions have entered multi-billion-dollar settlements with attorneys general in nearly all 50 states to make up for the fact that they were producing phony mortgage documents.

But stopping the foreclosure process altogether doesn’t really help anyone. Homeowners who are barely scraping by to make their payments or who have stopped paying altogether are still facing the looming possibility of a foreclosure. What’s worse, there is no provision under state law that compels these institutions to try to work with homeowners, particularly in offering a home loan modification.

So overall what we’ve seen as a result of the law (sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples) is that property rights have been eroded, banks have suffered an increased burden and foreclosures aren’t moving any faster through the system.

We are seeing some increase in overall home values, but so many neighborhoods continue to suffer ongoing damage as a result of blight from “zombie foreclosures” – about 14,000 statewide. In these cases, homeowners left believing eviction/foreclosure was imminent, but the lender never actually completed the process. The result is that the properties are left abandoned and falling apart. Most of the time, homeowners have no idea the property that is languishing is still in their name and remains their legal responsibility.

A number of homeowners have taken their foreclosures cases to the appellate courts, which generally have been reversing lower courts’ rulings on the grounds that banks have failed to provide very basic pieces of evidence or abide by simple contract laws.

Another measure that is providing sufficient relief to homeowners right now is the Dodd-Frank Act. Specifically, there have been a number of provisions that became effective this year that are specifically intended to shield homeowners from shady lending practices. Unfortunately, though, the law isn’t retroactive.

It also doesn’t fix a lot of the problems that are created by the fast-track foreclosure law here in Florida.

Still, if a borrower is grappling with a lender that has engaged in dual tracking (beginning a foreclosure while still in the loan modification process), unresponsiveness to inquiries or unrecorded payments, there could be a strong case made against the lender in court.

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 “Debt Warriors with Bruce Jacobs,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.

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