May numbers show Florida is first the nation in foreclosures. 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. 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,” said Governor Scott. “So our families make sure they can keep their homes.”
Scott says the bill will help put abandoned homes back on the market. The Florida Bankers Association says it will help rejuvenate the economy.
“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,” said Florida Bankers Association, Anthony DiMarco.
Homeowner advocates say the bill is unconstitutional, making it difficult for a person to save their home if they have difficulties paying their mortgage.
“In the long run, it’s going to limit homeowners rights when they try to defend a foreclosure on their home,” said Edward Grunewald with the North Florida Center for Equal Justice, Inc.
But Bankers counter that homeowners have plenty of time before banks start foreclosing.
“We don’t start a foreclosure until 4, 5, 6 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,” said DiMarco.
Florida courts have dealt with extreme numbers of foreclosures due to the housing bust. Earlier this year there was 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
“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,” said Grunewald.
Governor Rick Scott has also signed a bill which allows landlords to evict tenants more quickly after accepting a partial rent payment.