New controversial bill could speed up foreclosure process in Florida

Critics say bill would hurt homeowners

TAMPA - Tampa Bay's housing market, by all measurements, is on an upswing, yet tens of thousands of homes remain stuck in the foreclosure process.

State Senator Jack Latvala sees the foreclosure backlog as a weight on the housing industry and the local economy.  Which is why he pushed for the passage of Senate Bill 87.

Critics, including consumer attorney Charles Gallagher, claim one aspect of the bill known as 'show cause,' will shift the burden of proof in foreclosure cases from the lenders to the borrowers.

Florida's Consumer Action Network agrees, saying 'show cause' would speed up the process and force the borrower to prove to a judge the bank doesn't have the right to foreclose.

Critics also contend the bill doesn't force the bank to prove it owns the note to the home, only that they hold the note.  

Another point of contention' the measure offers monetary damages only for owners who have suffered a fraudulent foreclosure.  They would not be able to get their home back, which protects anyone who may have purchased the house.

There is one consumer-friendly provision in SB 87 everyone agrees on, the deficiency clause.

If the governor signs it, banks would have just one year instead of the current five, to go after owners for the difference in what was owed on the house and what it sold for in foreclosure.

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