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Foreclosure in Florida often goes too fast, harming homeowners

The foreclosure crisis in Florida has created a huge backlog of cases pending in court. To deal with this problem, the state Legislature and the Supreme Court have ordered foreclosure judges to wrap up older cases as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, according to the Tampa Bay Times, this emphasis on speed has led, in many cases, to a judicial attitude that ending a case rapidly is more important than giving a fair result a chance to happen.

The state has set up a special foreclosure court to try to get properties out of this legal limbo. The goal is to resolve 256,000 cases a year. Judges in these courtrooms often hear more than 100 motions a day.

Many observers say that the short time judges get to consider these motions often lead to them favoring the lenders. One attorney said that homeowners’ rights are frequently denied. Another has described the foreclosure court system as having the effect of “transferring billions of dollars in assets from individuals to large entities,” namely banks.

One morning, a then-Florida Circuit Court judge had 93 cases scheduled for two hours. Several times, when homeowners asked for an extension on a deadline to give them more time to negotiate with lenders, she denied them. Twice, she denied an extension even when the bank was also asking for one.

Most homeowners just want a fair chance to save their homes, if possible. Even with the speed at which the courts are trying to push some cases through, it may be possible to negotiate a settlement, or halt the foreclosure due to illegal activity by the lender.

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