Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel
June 1, 2013
A homeowner-advocacy group is pressuring Florida Gov. Rick Scott to veto
a bill that would expedite foreclosures in the state starting July 1.
The new state law would allow banks to complete foreclosures without
court hearings, unless a homeowner requests to have a specific case
heard by a judge. In the past, all foreclosure cases have had to pass
through the court system, even though a large proportion of the actions
have been uncontested by the owners.
Homeowners "will have to become more proactive and request a hearing,"
said Peter Phillips, executive director of the nonprofit group PICO
United Florida. "People who live in communities that have been
victimized the most with foreclosures, they are not necessarily going to
understand the legal process, and they're going to bear the brunt of
this. They're the ones who are not going to be able to afford legal
PICO on Wednesday asked the public to email the governor at
and ask him to veto the measure, which is House Bill 87. Scott has two
weeks to veto it, or it automatically becomes law.
In addition to its potential to hurt low-income homeowners, Phillips
said, the bill also undercuts government foreclosure-prevention
programs, such as the Hardest Hit fund. The government has invested
millions and millions of dollars in keeping people in their homes, but
the Florida bill would do more to remove them, he said.
Florida's judicial-based foreclosure process has been blamed for slowing
and prolonging the recovery of the state's housing markets. States that
do not require lenders and mortgage servicers to go through the court
system have rebounded faster from the real-estate downturn than has
Phillips said the judicial process is not to blame for the slow recovery
in Florida as much as banks are to blame for moving so slowly to
repossess delinquent properties saddled with overdue taxes and