Understanding HB-87 - the "fair foreclosure act" of 2013 and how it affects Florida homeowners facing foreclosure:
For years, Florida has had the highest foreclosure rates in the nation.
Damages from the 2008 mortgage crisis have been widespread and continue to occur at an alarming rate, resulting in large backlogs and delays in the court with many cases taking years to complete.
And the 2010 robo-signing scandal has put over 100,000 cases on a waiting list to be re-tried. As of late 2013, there were over 328,000 foreclosure cases sitting in the Florida judicial system.
In order to try and help alleviate some of the congestion within the courts, the Florida legislature got together in the summer of 2013 and passed HB 87, otherwise known as the "Fair Foreclosure Act". The bill officially took effect on July 1, 2013.
What has changed since HB 87 went into effect?
Although the bill was designed in part to help speed up the foreclosure process, filings have actually dropped since the bill took effect and cases are not being filed any faster.
The new law has also placed much more stringent requirements on the lender. Specifically, Section 702.015, Florida Statutes requires Plaintiffs to acknowledge that they have all of the proper documents necessary to prove their case. The drop in filings may be due to banks adjusting to the new law as they appear to be more cautious when bringing cases in front of the court. Some experts believe the banks are having trouble meeting the new stipulations.
How does HB 87 affect homeowners facing foreclosure in Florida?
For homeowners, the time to act when facing foreclosure has never been as critical as it is in the wake of HB 87. The entire foreclosure process has been expedited in a way that makes it much easier for banks to foreclose, and in a lot less time than before - provided they can get over the new hurdles they face with presenting the proper paperwork in their filings.
Once the bank has met the new filing requirements, the borrower now only has 20 to 45 days from the time they are served with the foreclosure notice to prove the lender does not have legal ground to take the property. This is largely due to the fact that HB 87 switches the burden of proof from the Plaintiff, bank, or lender to the Defendant, borrower or homeowner.
Speeding up the foreclosure process also produces another negative side-effect against borrowers as they now have a lot less time to gather evidence and build a stronger defense. The new process will also make it more difficult for homeowners to prepare for loan modifications, short sales, or deeds in lieu of foreclosure - especially without the help of an attorney, as time is critical and having experience in foreclosure defense is crucial to success.
Unfortunately, it looks like HB 87 doesn't provide much benefit to homeowners. And although the fraudulent document issue is allegedly addressed by requiring banks to file certain documents in the beginning of the foreclosure process, they are still not required to produce the mortgage or its assignments and homeowners will have even less opportunity to prove whether or not the documents are fraudulent.
If a lender files a foreclosure complaint and it goes uncontested for 45 days, and no genuine defense is produced, the lender can enter a final judgment of foreclosure and request an order of foreclosure sale. On top of all that, HB 87 has made all foreclosure judgments final.
How can Fernandez Law Group help with my foreclosure defense in lieu of HB 87?
The biggest impact of HB 87 is the fact that homeowners facing foreclosure now must act even faster when they first realize they might be facing a financial hardship. After falling behind a few payments, not having a plan in place can have drastic consequences. And once you receive a foreclosure notice, the time left to defend yourself is even reduced even more.
Hiring an experienced foreclosure defense law firm will help ensure your current situation is properly assessed so a strategic plan of defense can be implemented as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you determine if you qualify for short sales or loan modification programs and other foreclosure defense remedies and which of those options are in your best interest.
The attorneys at Fernandez Law Group have many years of experience in providing foreclosure defense, short sale and loan modification options to homeowners with favorable results. We've been on the forefront of defense since before the housing crisis and have evolved our methodologies and tactics through the changing laws in order to continue providing solid representation.
HB 87 isn't fair to or in favor of homeowners and strips them of some basic rights. The changes that allow foreclosures to now be routed through a homeowner association in order to expedite the process have effectively removed many of the proceedings from taking place in a courtroom, which was once required by Florida law.
Taking the case out of the courtroom takes away the homeowner's right to defend their case in court, however, the new paperwork requirements have actually lessened the number of foreclosures being filed. Analysts have concluded that it has become easier and less cumbersome for banks to attempt negotiations rather than proceed with foreclosure sales.
This could be due to the fact that housing rates are on the rise, while the number of cash paying investors gobbling up real estate has declined. Homeowners are less underwater, with more equity in their homes, making short sales and loan modifications much easier to qualify for.
There are also future revisions in development which are expected to change HB 87 from top to bottom in order to help expedite the process even faster. Any homeowners already in a delicate situation will be facing even more severe consequences and further demonstrating the need to hire qualified representation as soon as possible.
The Tampa attorneys here at Fernandez Law Group have plenty of experience in foreclosure defense and are ready to assess your situation.
You can take advantage of our Free Consultation and receive valuable insight and advice to help you make the right decision for your financial future and well being.
You are under no obligation, and you will walk away with plenty of valuable information to help you with your defense.
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Content authored by Gaston Fernandez
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