The Florida Fair Foreclosure Act died in the Florida Senate. This is cited by the article linked below as a victory for the homeowner, and it was. But the real victory most likely came in the House when the initial version of the bill was cut from about 45 pages down to 17. The version of the bill that passed the house only marginally improved banks position in the foreclosure process.
The only portion that was of serious concern was the provisions regarding expedited foreclosure. These provisions were not entirely new. A bank in a mortgage foreclosure has always been entitled to expedite a foreclosure by seeking an Order to Show Cause why a final judgment should not be entered immediately. In the past this procedure has not been widely used, because all the homeowner is required to do is to present an affidavit outlining any defense to avoid entry of judgment. With the exception of what legislators said the provision would do, the language adopted by the house did not seem to expand on this much.
The two parts of HB 213 that were new to the statute being amended were the ability to expedite a foreclosure if the property was abandoned and community associations’ ability to push the banks case.
For example, currently, if a process server can not serve the homeowner at the subject residence, and conducts a “diligent search” for the homeowner elsewhere, the bank can seek to publish service and proceed to obtain a judgment without any real possibility of opposition from the homeowner, who would most likely be unaware that the lawsuit was proceeding. HB 213 removed the requirement of a diligent search, but honestly many of these affidavits of Diligent Search and Inquiry were, in my experience, probably fraudulent anyway.
In the case of a community association, it would have been given the new ability to seek expedited foreclosure as described above, which is an improvement over its options in the past (filing a notice for trial, motion to compel foreclosure, etc.) but all that is required to defeat it is the homeowner filing an affidavit indicating a defense.
The real victory this bill and its failure represents, is the Florida legislature taking the side of the homeowner and not the banks. This was a vote on whether our elected representatives would stand with us or with the banks, and they chose the citizens as they should have.