The Florida Legislature’s Response to Foreclosure: Ill-Informed, Badly Conceived And Misleading
There are currently more 50,000 foreclosures pending in the Tampa Bay area with more than 3,700 new cases filed since the beginning of the year. The Florida legislature, led by Pinellas County Senator Jack Latvala, rather than focusing on ways to keep families in their homes are instead pushing for faster and more foreclosures with House Bill 87 and Senate Bill 1666. These bills are nothing but more rewards for the banks that caused the problems in the first place and they ignore the interests of families in our communities.
Banks that choose to play by long standing rules and comply with established law have no trouble concluding foreclosures in a timely fashion. Likewise, our judges and court staff, if funded properly, can fulfill their obligation to balance the goals of efficiency and upholding the integrity of our state’s legal system under the existing laws. It does not take an average of 853 days to complete a foreclosure in Florida, a figure which is fabricated by the banking industry and which is repeated by the Legislature in support of bank-friendly proposals. Continuing to repeat this incorrect number is irresponsible and disrespectful to our state’s court system and the people who work within it.
Foreclosures bogged down because the banks lied to courts and to the American people, a fact expressly admitted to in the various federal and state settlements recently announced. Industries that lie and cheat should not be rewarded by our state’s legislative body that should serve the interests of the people of this state”¦and not the interests of national banks and foreign trusts who stand to benefit from faster and more foreclosures. In the current legal and market environment, members of our community do not benefit from foreclosures which are sold in bulk to investors or purchased by hedge funds while at the same time local Realtors are home buyers are excluded from these transactions.
Finally, homeowner and condo associations, who suffer when homes are not filled with families paying fees, will not benefit because neither of these proposals can force banks to complete foreclosure cases when they choose not to. The sponsors of this badly conceived legislation need to disclose this important fact to these groups
The interests of the Tampa Bay community, and indeed those of the entire state, are served when families stay in homes. Florida’s elected leaders should be focused on this goal above all else. They should not be serving the interests of the banks and Wall Street with lies and legislation that offends fundamental notions of justice and fair play.