New State Housing Bill Causes Controversy

By: Matt Horn
By: Matt Horn

New statistics show Florida leads the nation in foreclosures, and last week the Governor signed a bill making it quicker for banks to foreclose.

Homeowners advocates say the bill will negatively affect homeowners dealing with hardships.

A fast-track foreclosure law will shorten the length a homeowner has to fight a bank. However, Governor Scott signed the Republican-driven bill and it is now the law in Florida.

"It's going to help make sure we have a timely foreclosure process. So our families make sure they can keep their homes," said Scott.

Scott says the bill will help put abandoned homes back on the market. The Florida Bankers Association says it will help rejuvenate the economy.

Anthony DiMarco of the Florida Bankers Association says, "our members do not want to foreclose, but, when we have to get to that point, we need to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible."

Homeowner advocates say the bill is unconstitutional, making it difficult for a person to save their home if they have difficulties paying their mortgage.

Edward Grunewald of the North Florida Center for Equal Justice said, "in the long run, it's going to limit homeowners rights when they try to defend a foreclosure on their home."

But, bankers counter that homeowners have plenty of time before banks start foreclosing.

"We don't start a foreclosure until four, five, six months after you've missed your first payment. So, we've tried to work with the borrower so they've had the opportunity for several months."

Florida courts have dealt with extreme numbers of foreclosures due to the housing bust. Earlier this year there were a little less than 400-thousand cases in the system.

Advocates say with a shorter time frame, banks may file inaccurate papers against a homeowner.

Officials say, if the homeowner doesn't have the time to get adequate defense or legal help then the bank will never have to prove they are the proper party to be suing in foreclosure.

Governor Rick Scott has also signed a bill which allows landlords to evict tenants more quickly after accepting a partial rent payment.

At the end of May, 52 percent of people who called on the bill supported the foreclosure bill, while 48 percent opposed it.


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