Faster foreclosures bill heads to Scott's desk

Article Courtesy of The Tampa Bay Times

By Toluse Olorunnipa

Published May 13, 2013


A proposal to speed up foreclosures in Florida passed the Senate on a 26-13 vote and will soon head to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott.

The third attempt at foreclosure reform in three years, HB 87 creates new options for expedited foreclosures and tightens up filing standards for banks.

Opponents claimed it would harm homeowners and favor banks, who have been accused of engaging in questionable foreclosure practices.

But proponents hailed it as a way to fix Florida’s nation-leading foreclosure problem, and return the state’s housing market back to normal.

“I believe we have a product here that will be an improvement in the process,” said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. It’s “far more tilted to consumers than it is to banks.” 

The bill states that homeowners who lose their home in a fraudulent foreclosure cannot get it back if another party bought the property from the bank. They would be limited to “monetary damages.” 

The “show cause” provision would allow condo associations to speed up the foreclosure process on homeowners who have not paid their condo dues. 

The proposal was sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples. 

The bill would also restrict banks’ ability to go after homeowners for additional debts after a foreclosure—cutting down the statute of limitations from five years to one year. The proposal makes banks prove they have the necessary documents before they file a foreclosure.

According to RealtyTrac, Florida ranks as a top state in the nation for foreclosures and seven of the top 10 cities in the U.S. are in Florida.

Part of the reason for the high foreclosure rate is the lengthy judicial foreclosure process in Florida, where banks must go to court to repossess a delinquent property.

Florida’s average foreclosure process takes 853 days, ranking only behind New York and New Jersey. The national average is 414 days.