Dealing with a potential foreclosure action is bad enough all by itself – an ordeal you should never have to face alone.
Given that Florida became something of a poster child for the housing crisis brought on in part by the Great Recession, one would think that enough resources would have been allocated to the foreclosure mess that the larger, state-wide ordeal would not adversely affect ordinary citizens.
Well, think again. According to a story published by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), and re-published by the Tampa Bay Times, foreclosure judges in Florida have been working under direct orders from the state Legislature and Supreme Court to move old cases out of the system and clean up the court dockets. How? In many cases, by giving tens of thousands of homes to financial institutions.
“The state’s entire court system has been compromised,” one foreclosure defense lawyer says. “They’re stripping away private property rights and transferring billions of dollars in assets from individuals to large entities.”
As the CPI’s report goes on to explain, Florida’s judicial and legislative leaders have mostly turned their backs on the consequences of tossing thousands of families out of their homes and then giving the properties to banks and mortgage service companies, who then sell the foreclosed houses into a market already flooded with real estate listings.
“They dealt with it as a court system problem,” says one former lawmaker who opposed the pair of bills passed in 2013 to clear the foreclosure backlog. “It was, ‘How can we speed up forcing people out of their homes?’ ”
And the so-called system isn’t all to blame for the stampede to clear up the foreclosure logjam. Consumers, too, just want the process to be over and done with so that they can move on with their lives.
However, the “get it over with” mentality often adds insult to injury, depriving homeowners of a fair hearing in venues where the playing field is already slanted in favor of banks.
“They just slam the defendants,” says one foreclosure attorney. “They deny them their rights, have hearings in absentia and just flush them down the garbage disposal.”