A recent article in the New York Times reported on the Florida Legislature’s new effort to cut the number of foreclosures throughout the State of Florida. Earlier this year, Florida provided $9.6 million in funding to set up “foreclosure-only” courts across the state. These courts would be staffed by retired judges to accommodate the record-setting number of foreclosures in Florida. The goal of the program, which began in July, is to reduce Florida foreclosures by 62 percent within a year.
However, this new program has come under much scrutiny. Lawyers representing troubled borrowers contend that many of the retired judges called in to oversee these foreclosure cases are so focused on cutting the caseload that they are unfairly favoring financial institutions at the expense of homeowners.
In the article, Chief Judge Victor Tobin in the 17th Judicial Circuit defends the new plan, saying that “There are more assets devoted to those three foreclosure divisions in Broward County than to any other division in the building in terms of case managers and that sort of thing to help the general public. The people who come in get fully, fully heard.”
Florida’s foreclosure mess is made even more complicated by what analysts and lawyers involved in the process say are “questionable practices” by some law firms that are representing banks. Such tactics, these people say, have drawn out the process significantly, making it extremely lucrative for the lawyers and more draining for troubled homeowners. Even a few South Florida law firms have come under such scrutiny regarding their questionable practices when handling the influx of foreclosure cases. Labeled as “foreclosure mills” in the article, often times these firms refuse to work with borrowers and are very aggressive about pushing cases through the courts, even when there are questions about the documentation.
Nevertheless, Florida law requires that before a financial institution can foreclose on a borrower, it must prove to the court that it actually has the standing to do so. Florida law also requires that banks argue their cases before a judge if they want to recover property from borrowers in default, and 471,000 such cases were pending in Florida at the end of July, according to the Florida State Courts administration.
The Florida Supreme Court has recognized the need to hire retired judges on a “temporary” basis and has ruled this as constitutional. However, with these “repeated and consecutive” foreclosures, these may not always qualify as “temporary” and could eventually be in violation of the Florida constitution.
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Foreclosure defense attorney, Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.