A Florida Republican this week reintroduced legislation to speed up the foreclosure process for the third consecutive year, even though similar legislation has sparked outrage from consumer advocates over the last two years.
State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R) is touting the new bill as a “more moderate” version of the legislation that has failed each of the previous two years, the Miami Herald reports. But while it includes some provisions proposed by homeowner advocates, it still reduces the the time banks have to process a foreclosure from five years to one, a problematic “fix” that could incentivize more fraudulent processing of foreclosure documents:
Passidomo’s bill aims to speed things up. It requires mortgage lenders to certify that they have the correct paperwork proving they have the right to foreclose. […]
The measure includes a provision that consumer activists supported last year to limit banks’ ability to go after homeowners for additional debt after a foreclosure.
Banks currently have five years to pursue a so-called “deficiency judgment” against a homeowner. The bill reduces that time-period to one-year.
The average Florida foreclosure, the Herald notes, takes more than 600 days to process. But even though Florida has more foreclosures than most other states, that length is hardly atypical. Nationally, homeowners with mortgages worth less than $250,000 are in default for an average of 611 days before they enter foreclosure. Borrowers with mortgages worth $1 million average 792 days in default before foreclosure begins.
Banks’ past efforts to hasten the foreclosure process led to fraudulent techniques like robo-signing and the forgery of foreclosure documents, which led banks to foreclose on homes they didn’t own, on homes that shouldn’t have been in foreclosure, and on homeowners who were seeking to modify their mortgages. The new legislation would supposedly require banks to certify their paperwork, but banks have previously flouted or gamed such mandates.
Consumer advocates are already drawing attention to the bill. “Might be a good time to start contacting your Florida state representatives in the state House and Senate on this issue,” one activist wrote in an email to followers, the Herald reported. “The more Floridians who oppose this bill and the earlier they oppose it, the better.”