Gov. Rick Scott signed the controversial fast-track foreclosure bill into law Friday, surprising opponents of the plan who thought he would quietly let it become law without his support.
The bill is the first substantial change to Florida foreclosure laws since the state’s epic real estate crash pushed hundreds of thousands of homeowners into default and overwhelmed the court system.
Scott said he supports the bill, one of 34 he signed Friday, because he believes it will add to Florida’s economic recovery by “placing abandoned homes, caught up in the foreclosure backlog, back onto the market.”
“This bill expedites an existing and voluntary alternative court process for defaulted home loans in uncontested cases when the borrower and the bank both seek a more speedy finality,” he wrote in his transmittal letter to the Department of State.
Homeowner advocates and foreclosure defense attorneys waged a high-profile battle against the bill, which even ignited a rare public brawl within the Florida Bar between lawyers opposed to the proposal and the Bar’s Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section. Both sides hired powerful lobbyists to push their interests and hurled accusations about ulterior motives for their positions.
Roy Oppenheim, a South Florida real estate and foreclosure defense attorney and member of an opposition group called Florida Consumer Justice Advocates, said he’s already had discussions about challenging the law as unconstitutional and asking the courts to delay its implementation until it receives judicial review.