A bill that would fast-track foreclosures in Florida – denying key due process rights to homeowners – has been given the green light by state House representatives and is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Our Miami foreclosure lawyers have been closely tracking the movements of this bill, and grow increasingly troubled the farther it proceeds.
In what’s been a nail-biting ride, House Bill 87, introduced by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), was approved by a vote of 87 to 26 – less than a week before the close of the legislative session.
Similar measures in various forms have been debated over the previous four legislative sessions.
The one piece of good news is that the bill has only a handful more days before it will find itself in the same position as last year: Approved by the House, stalled in the Senate.
Still, Passidomo expressed hope that it would move quickly through the Senate.
On the surface, this bill might seem common sense. After all, Florida does have a glut of foreclosures and they are each trudging slowly through the system. But a big part of that is the banks’ efforts to stall.
As we previously reported in our Foreclosure Lawyer Blog, many banks have taken to simply abandoning foreclosures in order not have to catch up on the property taxes and maintenance fees. Biggest problem is they are doing this only after they have evicted the borrower. Oh yeah, and they neglect to notify the borrower of this as well, allowing the bills to stack up against the unsuspecting homeowner and leaving neighborhoods to decay with blight.
But the other reason it’s dangerous to speed up the process is that when you do so – especially in the ways proposed by Passidomo’s bill, you end up sidestepping important due process rights.
Judges in Miami have already been dangerously sidestepping some of these in an effort to plow through as many cases as possible in order to make some noticeable headway.
It seems we forget in all this that the homeowners weren’t the ones to blame for the housing crisis. It was the shady – sometimes illegal – practices of these financial institutions that led us here. And yet, we are continuing to punish the homeowners with measures such as this.
For example, the bill holds that if a homeowner can prove his or her house was seized in a fraudulent foreclosure, he or she would only be entitled to monetary compensation. They would not be entitled to get their home back. So essentially, even if the foreclosure was the result of a gross error, the process can’t be undone.
The ability to correct these kinds of mistakes is an essential power of our judicial branch. HB 87 would strip that away.
The bill prompted 10 members of the House to speak. Supporters of the measure claimed that it would reduce the number of years a bank could pursue a deficiency from five years down to one.
But the damage it would do outweighs any benefit. Another example of this is in the provision that puts the onus of proof on the homeowner. So instead of the bank being responsible to prove why the home should be foreclosed upon, it becomes the homeowner’s responsibility to prove why they should be allowed to keep their home.
This defies the very basic principals of the justice system.
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.
Fast-track foreclosure bill approved by House lawmakers, April 29, 2013, By Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
More Blog Entries:
Quickie Florida Foreclosure Bill Slips Through Another Committee, April 25, 2013, Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog