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New Foreclosure Law Clears the Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee

New Foreclosure Law Clears the Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee

A proposed bill is winding its way through the Florida legislature that would change the procedures for foreclosure lawsuits in Florida. HB 87 (“Mortgage Foreclosures”), sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Passidimo, R-Naples, aims to "fast-track" the foreclosure process through several provisions. This bill recently cleared the Florida House Civil Justice Subcommittee (largely along partisan lines).

Similar bills have been introduced over the last four years, and each one has failed to pass the Florida legislature. The 2013 version of the foreclosure bill reduces the statute of limitations for deficiency judgments from five years to one, and requires the lender in a foreclosure action to provide certain documents proving ownership of the loan before a court can begin foreclosure proceedings. Under the new procedures, it allows third-party lien holders such as homeowners associations to initiate those proceedings and reduces the number of hearings.

In a strange twist, both bankers and consumer protection lawyers oppose the bill for different reasons. Foreclosure defense lawyers are concerned that the new bill strips away important legal rights from homeowners and is a danger to due process in foreclosure cases.

"This proposed legislation will hurt the legal rights of Florida homeowners," said Christopher Forrest, an attorney who represents property owners in foreclosure cases across the State of Florida.

Lobbyist Anthony DiMarco, on behalf of the the Florida Bankers Association, called the reduced statute of limitations for deficiency judgments “draconian,” and suggested it be reduced to two years instead of just one.

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