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Quickie Florida Foreclosure Bill Slips Through Another Committee

Florida Senate Bill 1666 would make it harder for struggling homeowners to hang onto their houses.

Banks and even judges are eager to ram this down our throats, as they want to clear the backlog of foreclosure cases that have piled up in Florida since the housing crisis first began to unfold several years ago.

Our Miami foreclosure lawyers know that the framers of this bill are overlooking the truly at-fault parties behind that backlog – and it’s not the homeowners. Yet, that is exactly who would be punished should the measure be passed.

Despite all the evidence of how bad this bill is for Floridians, it continues to slip through committee after committee on its fast-track to the Senate floor. Most recently, the measure was passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee by a margin of 6-2.

Even lawmakers who remain staunchly opposed to the measure say there is a likelihood it will pass – which is why it is of critical importance for constituents to make their voices heard on this.

As you may recall, SB 1666 would:

  • Free banks of the responsibility to produce the actual mortgage or its assignments. In turn, homeowners have little to no chance of proving whether those documents are fraudulent.
  • Strip the reviewing judge of the ability to determine in chambers whether robo-signing is a factor in the case.
  • Take away the homeowner’s right to petition for the return of the home if he or she later learns the foreclosure action only happened due to fraud.

Lawmakers are patting themselves on the back right now for tweaking one of the most controversial aspects of the bill, which involved forcing homeowners to rapidly piece together their defense or risk being booted from their home.

An amendment to the law would allow homeowners to file certain documentation arguing a valid defense, which would allow them to be removed from the fast-track process. However, if the other measures remain in place – such as the provision making it tougher to root out fraudulent bank records – fewer homeowners are going to be able to prove a valid defense before the process gets well underway.

And opponents of the measure say what is particularly troubling is the provision that homeowners who are victims of fraud won’t be allowed to get their home back. They will only be able to seek financial compensation.

As one foreclosure defense attorney put it, why should the banks be above the long-held rule that someone wrongly deprived of property is allowed to later reclaim that property?
Additional criticism has focused on the fact that there was very little debate on the whole thing before the Senate Judiciary Committee passed it. While nine opponents had signed up to speak on the matter, only three were allowed to testify. One of those denied his opportunity was a retired firefighter who recently lost his home to foreclosure who claims the bank acted improperly. He lamented that not only had he traveled almost 300 miles to make his voice heard, his opposition is valid – and lawmakers should show the respect of at least listening before making their decision.

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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