Law passes to speed up foreclosures - FOX 13 News

Law passes to speed up foreclosures

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TALLAHASSEE (FOX 13) -

Florida lawmakers have passed legislation to speed up the foreclosure process.

The bill reduces the amount of time that homeowners have to put together a defense explaining why they should be allowed to stay in the house.

It also shortens the time that banks can seek an unpaid mortgage from a defaulting homeowner.

Opponents are urging Gov. Rick Scott to veto the bill because they argue it takes away people's property rights and unfairly forces them to defend against foreclosure without enough time to prepare a defense.

"In many cases, they're very complex. They require depositions and other forms of discovery to flesh out the defenses and there won't be time to do this," said Alice Vickers, with the Florida Consumer Action Network.

Florida currently has about 350,000 foreclosure cases backlogged in the court system.

The cases take an average of two-and-a-half years. That's twice the national average.

Vickers said the new law could actually have opposite of the intended effect.

"We think that it will hurt homeowners. We think that it could in fact lengthen the foreclosure process and just flood our courts even more with hearings than they currently have. So we would urge [Governor Scott] to veto the bill," she said.

The group Florida Realtors supports the bill. Spokesman Trey Goldman says expediting foreclosure cases will stabilize Florida's housing market, boost the economy and clear up the blight in many neighborhoods with foreclosed properties.

"So it's something in terms of the economic recovery of Florida we'd like to see," said Trey Goldman, with Florida Realtors.

Goldman added the bill includes important consumer protections that entitle homeowners to all kinds of compensatory damages if they're forced out of a home fraudulently or by mistake.

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