Soto Continues to Fight for Florida’s Families in Foreclosure
Tallahassee – As Florida continues to maintain its shameful distinction as first in the nation for housing foreclosures, state Senator Darren Soto (D-Orlando) announced Wednesday his filing of four bills intended to better help Floridians save their homes and protect them from unscrupulous foreclosure practices.
“These bills represent a vision for resolving the foreclosure crisis where we work with families to save their homes and make them more affordable as well as provide meaningful debt relief,” said Senator Soto, who last year spearheaded efforts to crack down on foreclosure mills. “This vision stands in stark contrast to the numerous bills filed over the past few years with the sole intention of kicking thousands of Florida’s working families out of their homes for the sake of expediency. We can and must do better,”
Soto filed Senate Bill 1236, the “Mortgage Principal Reduction Act,” which would require the Florida Housing Finance Corporation to apply for $100 million of the federal government’s Hardest-Hit Fund program in order to begin a mortgage principal reduction program for Floridians whose homestead properties are in foreclosure.
Senator Soto and Representative Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) also filed Senate Bill 1226 and House Bill 371 aimed at giving homeowners relief after having their homestead property foreclosed upon. Currently, lenders are able to file a deficiency judgment – additional debts assessed by creditors against homeowners to make up for any loss in property value from the original mortgage amount – up to 5 years after the final judgment of foreclosure. Senator Soto proposes to change that length of time to only one year. Additionally, lenders would have only two years to collect the outstanding debt, sparing homeowners from collectors’ current license to haunt them for up to two decades.
Soto will also be introducing the “Short Sale Debt Relief Act” (SB 1228), along with Representative Fullwood (D-Jacksonville). This bill will make deficiency judgments unenforceable for short sales where the original mortgagee’s debt is greater than 20% of the fair market value.
Finally, Senator Soto and Representative Jose Rodriguez (D-Miami) are working on the “Florida Mortgage Collection Fairness Act” (SB 1218), which would prohibit mortgage collection firms from falsifying evidence in foreclosure proceedings.