— Reducing the statute of limitations, or amount of time, for banks to go after foreclosed homeowners on deficiency judgments from five years to one year. Deficiencies are the difference between the money obtained from selling a foreclosed home and what the original homeowner still owes on it.
— Requiring banks to prove in more detail that they own the mortgage or explain why they can't prove ownership.
— Creating a process for others besides mortgage-holders to ask the court to speed up foreclosure cases.
— Creating legal protections for people who buy foreclosed homes in good faith, not knowing of defaulted mortgages or problems with titles.
— Allowing senior, or semi-retired, judges to also hear foreclosure matters for at least the next three years to relieve the backlog, estimated at 371,000 cases. Those judges will be paid $350 per day.
Other opponents of the bill said a faster process will trample on the rights of homeowners already being hounded by banks and their attorneys.
Booker T. Perry retired after 25 years as a firefighter in Central Florida, only to have to go through a foreclosure and divorce at the same time. At one point, his bank — unknown to him at the time — was wrongly sending his paperwork to his wife's divorce lawyer.
Under this bill, he said, there'll be less time to catch mistakes. And "if there are flaws," Perry said, "the case shouldn't move forward."
The Senate bill next stops at the Judiciary committee. A companion bill is in the House.
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