Today, the 60-day annual session of the Florida Legislature begins, and the entire country is watching. The next nine weeks are going to be a very important time for Floridians, especially Florida home owners.
Things began with Governor Rick Scott’s State of the State address (read it here) but for Florida home owners and Florida borrowers fighting foreclosure and trying to short sell their homes, the real deal today is what will happen with the proposed bills that are being pushed in Tallahassee that impact Florida home owners. These include:
1. Senate bill that would increase property insurance premiums for the 1,300,000+ Citizens Property Insurance Corporation policyholders by adding 3% to the current 10% cap set by law for Citizens.
2. House Bill 87 (described in detail here) which would change the current judicial foreclosure laws in an attempt to control the glut of foreclosures currently setting on the dockets of Florida’s courts. The brainchild of Florida Representative Kathleen Passidomo, this proposed law would not only remove protections that exist for due process purposes on certain foreclosure lawsuits, allowing the banks to foreclosure that much easier and faster, it would shorten the amount of time that is necessary to pass before a Florida bank can take a house in foreclosure proceedings.
3. SB 1226 that proposes a new law to lessen the amount of time that banks can go after deficiencies in foreclosures and short sales (changes the limitations period).
4. SB 1236 if it becomes state law will force the Florida Housing Finance Corporation to apply for $100 million from the federal government’s “Hardest-Hit Fund” program and take that money to fund a plan to lower the principals on mortgages of Florida home owners whose homesteads are facing foreclosure.
5. SB 1218 would create new Florida procedures to stop delinquent mortgage collection agencies from falsifying evidence in foreclosure lawsuits.
Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:
Right now, Florida is still reeling from some of its worst economic years since the Great Depression. It is good for lawmakers to be motivated to fix things and make things better for Floridians everywhere – but the powers that be in Tallahassee don’t have the same perspective on what’s best for our state. State Representative Passidomo and State Senator Soto are proposing legislation that focuses on two different interest groups: Passidomo looks to be helping banks and Soto seems to be focused on helping homeowners.
It’s true that homeowners are hurting. The bill to increase property insurance premiums isn’t good news for homeowners in South Florida: they’ve just had a price jump in 2012, where Citizens policies increased around 11 percent.
It’s also true that Florida has the highest state foreclosure rate in the United States right now (using 2012 numbers from RealtyTrac). The Florida courts are bottlenecked with foreclosure lawsuits filed by banks. For a while, most of those lawsuits were just sitting there; however, judges are ramping up the Rocket Dockets once again to try and clear out their clerks’ offices.
Soto’s proposals (the last four in the list above) will help Florida homeowners. However, the truth is that homeowners don’t have as loud a voice up in Tallahassee like bank lobbyists, for example.
What will happen in the next nine weeks is anyone’s guess — but with all of the proposals for laws that impact the pocketbooks of the average Florida home owner, odds are high that some bad things are going to become law (like revamping the foreclosure process) which will not be in the homeowner’s best interest.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific or personal situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments.
“I’m happy to take your call.”