The controversial Senate Bill 1666 has driven a wedge between two sides of an influential section of the Florida bar.
In one corner, you have attorneys like Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Bruce Jacobs, who fight for the rights of homeowners facing foreclosure. On the other side, you have attorneys who are members of the Bar’s Trust, Probate and Real Property Law Sections.
The latter group has not only supported the push to pass SB 1666, it even hired a Tallahassee lobbyist in an attempt to further convince legislators.
This has created a significant rift.
The bill originated as a way to speed the foreclosure process in Florida, which has been moving at a molasses pace ever since the robo-signing scandal was uncovered.
However, sacrificing the rights of distressed homeowners to benefit the lenders and banks that started all of this in the first place hardly seems a fair trade-off. Yet this is exactly what SB 1666 would do.
As Jacobs was recently quoted as saying in a Daily Business Review article, “It is tipping the center even more toward the banks.”
Current foreclosure law holds that cases can be filed in one of two ways: Either with the burden of proof on the lender or with an expedited filing with the burden of proof on the homeowner. The latter typically involves an incredibly complex process, so banks and lenders often choose the former.
However, SB 1666 and its companion bill, HB 87, would amend the law so that the option for a proceeding with a burden of proof on the homeowner would actually become quite a bit easier. However, in the process, it would take away a homeowner’s ability to challenge false documents, along with a laundry list of others. This is critical because part of the reason we have the backlog we do is because of:
- Incredibly risky lending practices by banks that led to scores of people in homes they could never have afforded;
- The use of falsified and fraudulent documents used in foreclosure cases, known as robo-signing, which caused courts to stall millions of foreclosure cases nationally.
And yet, our solution is to turn around and reward the banks by making it easier to remove people from their homes?
These measures would take away many of the chances a person currently holds to save their homes. Under the proposed measures, it would be a one-shot deal, and there would be no presumption of innocence.
Illustrating how this works in the practical, every day sense, Jacobs occasionally does pro bono work within the Miami-Dade Circuit foreclosure court. In one case, he helped to secure a trial postponement, giving her more time to resolve certain financial issues. In another case, he argued that the bank had insufficient documentation with which to foreclose. As such, the bank ended up filing for an involuntary dismissal in the case.
Were the new law to be in effect, Jacobs said, these individuals would have lost their cases long ago.
The fact is, many of the judges working these cases are suffering from something called “foreclosure fatigue.” That is, they simply want to get through the backlog and get these cases closed.
It’s understandable, but it’s not the way we should be doing business. Due process is not a value we can afford to sacrifice.
If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Keeley 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.
Bill to fast track foreclosures has sparked a rare internal Florida Bar fight, March 28, 2013, By Paola Iuspa-Abbott, The Daily Business Review
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Feds Failed to Disclose Breadth of Foreclosure Mistakes by Banks, March 12, 2013, Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog