Rally in Tally to fight new foreclosure bill that would change Florida foreclosure laws

Rally in Tally to fight new foreclosure bill that would change Florida foreclosure laws

 Grayson Kamm    

Tampa, Florida — The idea of foreclosures that happen months faster and never go before a judge has some homeowners so angry, they piled onto a bus bound for Tallahassee hours before sunrise Wednesday.

It may have been the wee hours, but these folks were fired up.

A bus scooped up a handful of people at International Plaza in Tampa, and organizers expected to have about two-dozen upset homeowners on board by the time the bus made the last of its passenger pickups and rolled into Florida’s capital at around 8:30 a.m.

The bus-riding protestors are angry about a proposed foreclosure law that’s being pushed in the Florida Legislature by the banking industry.

If the bill is passed, foreclosing banks would be able to switch from a “judicial” to a “non-judicial” foreclosure process. That means — if a bank chooses — a judge would be removed from a foreclosure case, and the dispute would be handled directly between the foreclosing bank and the homeowner.

The process would apply mainly to second homes or rental homes; houses that have a homestead exemption on them would still need a judge’s involvement before the homeowners could be evicted and foreclosed on.

If the change is approved, it could dramatically speed up some kinds of foreclosures.

A “non-judicial” foreclosure could be wrapped up in as little as three months. Judicial foreclosures currently often take more than a year.

Bankers, who are backing the bill, say it will help Florida clear up the backlog of hundreds of thousands of foreclosure cases plugging up the state’s court system.

Supporters also say the bill would help neighbors of empty foreclosed properties by getting those homes back on the market, and help condo associations by putting new owners who will pay association dues into foreclosed units that don’t currently contribute to building maintenance.

Folks fighting against the proposal say it takes away the guarantee that no one will be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” promised by the U.S. Constitution, and the proposal would hand over too much power to banks.

The bus to Tallahassee from Tampa was paid for by the Stopa Law Firm, which handles foreclosure cases in the middle of Florida. The Tampa bus will be joined by similar buses from other parts of the state in Tallahassee.

The bill they’re arguing against originally had the questionable title of “Florida Consumer Protection and Homeowner Credit Rehabilitation Act,” but has since been given more realistic names in the Florida House and Senate.

Both the House and Senate versions of the latest bills, HB 1523 and SB 2270, seemed to die in committee earlier this month, but opponents fear the bills may still be revived this year or next year.

Connect with 10 Connects multi-media journalist Grayson Kamm on Twitter as @graysonkamm, on his Facebook page, or by e-mail at this link.


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