Cathie Dorman is fighting a legal battle to keep the bank from foreclosing on her house in Stuart, and she wants lawmakers to know it.
She joined a group of 30 homeowners and lawyers Wednesday who traveled to the Capitol to remind their lawmakers that homeowners throughout the state are still battling mortgage foreclosures and fraud.
The group of advocates gathered across the street from the Florida Supreme Court to praise the Legislature for pushing aside House and Senate bills that would have authorized foreclosures for non-homestead properties without intervention from a court.
It’s legislation, Dorman said, that would have hindered her ability to challenge her home’s foreclosure, which she claims is fraught with fraud.
“I wouldn’t be able to stand before the judge and bring this into the light with paying an exorbitant fee,” she said.
The FBI defines foreclosure fraud as “any material misstatement, misrepresentation or omission relied upon by an underwriter or lender to fund, purchase or insure a loan.”
Neither of the two bills allowing for non-judicial foreclosures made it to the their respective floors. SB 2270, proposed by Bradenton Republican Mike Bennett, did not make it to a first vote, and HB 1523 was not considered for a vote on its last committee stop this month.
The event was a display of the frustration with the government Floridians are still feeling as they struggle to stay in their homes. One in 57 homes in Florida was going through some stage of foreclosure in the first quarter of this year.
Matt Weidner, a St. Petersburg attorney leading the event, said the fate of the bills was a victory for homeowners against “fat cat” bankers and creditors.
“We said they were not going to drive a bulldozer through homeowners’ rights,” Weidner said.
The non-judicial foreclosure bills may have been derailed this year, but the same idea might prove dangerous in the future, Weidner said.
The state needs to support its judicial branch to keep foreclosure cases in the courts and prevent fraud, he said.
Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, and Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, said the Legislature has not done enough to prevent foreclosures. They said they proposed creating a new homeowners’ Bill of Rights that would enact new protections against foreclosures, but it gained no ground during the legislative session.
Michael Redman, founder of 4closurefraud.com, said solving the foreclosure problem is simple.
“I’d like to see a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures,” he said.
Weidner said it might be easy to dismiss the advocates at the Cpitol today, but there concerns were valid and should be addressed.
“We don’t want to be victims,” Weidner said. “We don’t want to be deadbeats. And we don’t want to be removed from our homes.”
Reach Alex Tiegen at atiegen@sunshinestatenews, or at (561) 329-5389.