For the fourth year in a row, elected lawmakers in the Florida legislature have introduced a bill designed to bypass your constitutional rights and speed up the process of taking people’s property away and throwing them into the street. This bill is given a tricky name meant to fool people into thinking it is good for Floridians. The “Fair Foreclosure Act”, House Bill 87, has been introduced into the Florida House of Representatives by Representative Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples). We call it the “UNfair Foreclosure Act” to more accurately portray the intention and goals of the bill. This is the third year Rep. Passidomo has introduced her bill. She just won’t give up. She believes that faster foreclosures that kick more Floridian families out of their homes will speed up the recovery of Florida economy. This bill will have a twin in the Florida Senate, to be introduced by Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater).
What will change if this bill passes? The law will affect every single pending foreclosure case in the state because it is retroactive. The banks only need to submit certain documents and then it is up to the homeowner to prove there are issues of fact. However, the judge can ignore the owner’s issues and enter a ruling anyway! The traditional rule of law, where a person who sues another must prove their case by “the greater weight of the evidence” will be dead for foreclosure cases. Banks can take your home away, quickly and easily… They can continue to fabricate documents as they have been caught doing countless times, file them in court, and then the homeowner has only 20 days to raise doubt, which again, the judge can ignore! The homeowner is not allowed to take time to ask for bank records or payment history to help prove bank misconduct or a wrongful foreclosure. Lastly, if a house is wrongfully foreclosed, in certain circumstances a homeowner cannot sue to get their house back!
Over the next month, the bills will move through committees in the Florida House and the Florida Senate where our elected representatives will vote on the bills. If the “YES” votes outnumber the “NO” votes in each committee, then the bills will go to a floor vote in both chambers of the Florida legislature (the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate). If those “YES” votes outnumber the “NO” votes in both chambers and the Governor signs off, the bill becomes a law.
We need your help! We’ll be making new blog posts and sending out regular email updates and Action Alerts to our clients and will also be posting them on this blog. Please take action by following the instructions to call and email your elected representatives to urge them to OPPOSE this bill! Encourage your friends and family to also take action. The only hope of defeating this bill and preventing it from becoming Florida law is to raise mass citizen opposition.
For an idea of what we are up against, on Thursday, February 7, 2013, House Bill 87 was up for its first committee vote. The results (here) were ten YES votes to only three NO votes. Ten to three. See where this is going?
Before a subcommittee votes, they hold a hearing where citizens and lobbyists can speak for or against the proposed legislation. You can watch a video link of the February 7, 2013 committee hearing here, start at 16:15 to watch Representative Kathleen Passidomo discuss her “foreclosure reform” bill followed by speakers deliver comments in response and then finally the committee members vote overwhelmingly to pass the bill to move it on to the next committee vote. Keep in mind, every year, this bill has included some requirements that are citizen friendly. As the bill moves through different committees, those parts are weakened or completely removed after powerful and connected bank lobbyists demand changes. Don’t be fooled!
TODAY’S ACTION ALERT: Look up your Florida representative here. Call them NOW and leave a short message to OPPOSE House Bill 87. If you get a voice mail, leave a message with your name, county, zip code and instructions to OPPOSE HOUSE BILL 87. Also, please log in to sign this petition.
We know the bill is headed to the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee next. Stay tuned for the action alert to call and email the members of that committee next.
If you are in South Florida and are looking for help with debt, foreclosure, real estate or want more information about bankruptcy law, call us at (754) 400-5150 or fill out our online form for a FREE CONSULTATION. Let the lawyers and staff at the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen serve you!