Group asks Scott to veto

speedier-foreclosure bill

Article Courtesy of The Orlando Sentinel

By Mary Shanklin

Published 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 counsel."

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 Florida.

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 homeowner-association fees.