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Florida’s Fast-Track Foreclosure Bill Passes House Committee

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A Florida bill designed to speed up the foreclosure process in the Sunshine State passed the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on February 7, on a 10-3 vote.

Sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, the bill (House Bill 87) allows third-party lienholders to start foreclosure proceeding and rushes final judgment of foreclosure if a homeowner doesn’t file a defense. The bill aims to streamline and expedite the foreclosure process. Among other things, it reduces the statute of limitations for deficiency judgments from five years to one year, and requires the lender in a foreclosure action to provide certain documents proving ownership of the loan before foreclosure proceedings begin.

The average foreclosure in Florida takes two years to work its way through the courts. After the housing bubble popped, large banks began using Florida law firms as “foreclosure mills” that had staffers work as “robo-signers” to push faulty and fraudulent paperwork through the courts. As a result, there was widespread cases of foreclose proceeding with inadequate or nonexistent proof of ownership of the mortgage.

The bill, a controversial piece of legislation in a state that leads the nation in foreclosure filings, moves to the Senate where further changes to the bill are anticipated.

Florida has the nation’s third-longest foreclosure timeline, with the average foreclosure taking 853 days to process, according to RealtyTrac. New York foreclosures take an average of 1,089 days, while New Jersey is at 931 days. The nationwide average foreclosure timeline is 414 days.

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