By Michael Collins
Florida Governor Rick Scott may have just one more day to veto Florida's big-bank friendly foreclosure act, HB 87. Nearly 1,200 Floridians have signed the Veto Florida's Foreclosure Act Petition, despite indifferent coverage by Florida's mainstream media. We would know the exact deadline required for the governor's veto if HB 87 appeared on the governor's live legislative action web page. For some reason, it's not there. (Image)
HB 87 speeds up the Florida's home foreclosure process by making it easier for banks to throw citizens out of their homes. The burden of proof is switched from the plaintiff, banks, to the defendant, homeowners. When the bill's requirements for evidence gathering to appeal an initial judgment combine with general rules for discovery, defendants have just days to put together a case. See Florida HB 87, Homeowners, and the Foreclosure Inferno for a detailed run down of just some of the major problems.
Why do Banks Want a Friendly Foreclosure Bill in Florida?
Justice and basic concepts of law are sacrificed to allow banks greater ease and efficiency in taking possession of your home.
A bill passed last week by the Florida legislature offers efficiencies and advantages to banks that may launch a major increase in foreclosures in the state known for its volatile real estate market. The only thing standing in the way is a veto by Governor Rick Scott. (Image: Nathan Rein)
HB 87 shifts the burden of proof from the plaintiff, typically a bank, to the defendant, the homeowner. If the bill is signed into law, homeowners must prove that the bank lacks the legal right to take your home within 20 to 45 days of the date that the bank served the foreclosure notice. The reduced timeline restricts the ability to gather evidence from the bank and test it (Does the bank actually have a legal record of your mortgage?). Without the time to discover evidence, homeowners are at a major disadvantage at the initial hearing or appealing a decision, presuming there are funds for an appeal.
The bank-friendly bill, H.B. 87, was passed by the Florida Senate 27 to 13 and House of Representatives 87 to 26 in partisan votes with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. However, when Democrats in the Florida Senate had opportunities to stop the bill due to rules violations, none spoke up. The party line vote was a sideshow that masked the bipartisan assent without objection to what may be the most pro-bank legislation in any major state.
You're headed for bankruptcy court tomorrow. It's been a long and difficult road. You and your husband both worked. You made decent money. Then your husband became ill. There was no sick leave because he worked for himself. His disability insurance had a six-month delay and only covered half of the lost income. That was all you could afford. (Image Wikimedia Commons)
His condition was critical and required medication three times a day at a monthly cost of $2500. Your company plan covered your husband but it didn't cover the medication because the insurance company termed it experimental. It was the sole option for the crippling illness according to the three specialists consulted.
Your husband contributed 40% of the family income. The loss was a big hit but you persevered. You couldn't sell the house, even if you wanted to. It was $150,000 upside down. There was no federal or bank program to relieve that burden. After four months of cashing in a modest 401(k), it became obvious that you couldn't make it. You needed relief and time for your husband to get well.
You consulted your accountant. On his advice, you decided to file for bankruptcy.
The Federal government is about to settle the ForeclosureGate affair, according to a report in the New York Times on April 9. The Times noted that twelve million homes will be lost by 2012. Home equity values are down by $5.6 trillion since the real estate crash.
The proposed settlement culminates an effort by federal prosecutors to address strongly supported allegations of widespread mortgage fraud perpetrated on as many as sixty percent of current mortgage holders. Homeowners were sold mortgages, serviced for the loans, and, in some cases, subjected to foreclosure and eviction based on fictional contracts and collections practices that violate the most basic principles of contract law and specific federal code pertaining to fraudulent debt collection.
"MERS acts as nominee in the county land records for the lender and servicer. Any loan registered on the MERS® System is inoculated against future assignments because MERS remains the nominal mortgagee no matter how many times servicing is traded. MERS as original mortgagee (MOM) is approved by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, FHA and VA, California and Utah Housing Finance Agencies, as well as all of the major Wall Street rating agencies." About theMortgage Electronic Registration System, MERS
The foreclosure scandal surrounding the US financial industry is being portrayed by the banks as a technical problem which requires that some documentation errors be fixed. The White House has rejected the calls of many in the Congress for a nationwide moratorium on foreclosures on the grounds that there are quite a lot of them that are legitimate and should be processed. Government officials say it is going to take just a little bit of time to sort out these from the flawed foreclosures.
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