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Florida’s foreclosure fast-track bill may expose state to billions of dollars in liability under Bert Harris Act

by Mike on February 11, 2013

The Florida legislature is once again considering a bill to fast-track foreclosure cases in the judicial system—even though no one wants to use the expedited procedure that already exists—and one of the most dangerous provisions the bill contains is the so-called “Finality of judgment” section.

The finality provision

This finality provision is backed by well-funded title insurance who might find themselves on the hook for fraudulent foreclosures completed in the last five years, and would deprive Florida homeowners of the right to recover property wrongfully lost through fraud or due process violations—exactly the kind of misdeeds that killed the careers and law firms of David J. Stern, Henry Adorno, and Mark Ben-Ezra (with more to come).

At first blush, this is a solution looking for a problem. There hasn’t exactly been a huge wave of innocent buyers losing property they purchased after a fraudulent foreclosure. At least not yet. But the title industry seems to think this wave is coming, and that’s why they are backing this bill.

Here’s the great big foreclosure-fraud catch

Only one problem—okay, more than one, but here’s one: this bill could cost Florida taxpayers billions of dollars in compensation to victims of fraudulent foreclosures.

Anyone remember the Bert J. Harris, Jr. Act? It provides that an act of the government that causes an “inordinate burden” on the use of real property in the state gives the property owner the right to sue the government for compensation. The key issue in any court case is whether depriving property owners the right to recover fraudulently-foreclosed property would be considered an “inordinate burden.” Certainly, the value of property that’s no longer protected from fraudulent foreclosures is worth a lot less.

And litigating those cases could get very, very expensive for a state that doesn’t have a lot of money to spare right now.

Speed still kills.

The inclusion of this provision kills the argument that foreclosures should move faster, with less due process than before—a feature of nearly every other provision in the bill. If title companies are concerned that foreclosure title may not be valid, the answer is more safeguards and more careful time spent—not less.

Contact your Senator now and tell him to OPPOSE foreclosure fast-tracking!

The bill looks set to cruise past the House. But the Senate, like last year, is where this terrible bill might die. We at Ricardo & Wasylik urge anyone who cares about property rights to find your state Senators and tell them you OPPOSE this fast-track legislation because it devalues your property and infringes on your property rights as protected by the Florida Constitution.

Want to know more? Contact us at Ricardo & Wasylik, PL.

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