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Florida lawmakers are considering legislation that would permit nonjudicial foreclosures, taking judges out of the foreclosure process. Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Dean Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos all support a change in the law. If their efforts succeed, Florida will join nearly 30 states that process foreclosures without involving a judge.

Judicial foreclosures are more expensive and take longer to complete than nonjudicial foreclosures. Under current foreclosure laws, Florida is one of five states in the country that takes the longest time to foreclose, at 638 days. Only New York, at 664 days, takes longer to complete a foreclosure. None of the five states with the shortest time to foreclose requires a judge’s involvement in foreclosure.

Gov. Scott told reporters that Florida’s lengthy foreclosure process costs homeowners and lenders extra money and keeps homes off the market and in limbo for too long. A spokesperson for the Florida Bankers Association says the law will stimulate the economy. “Property taxes will get paid,” he said. “People will buy paint and furniture.”

Rep Darren Soto, D-Orlando, has announced his opposition to the bill. He believes that there is no more important property right than the right of a homeowner to keep his home.

Under the new law, a homeowner who was seeking to keep his or her home could still take a foreclosure to court, but only if he paid a filing fee of nearly $2,000, an amount Soto called “cost prohibitive.” Soto opposed the passage of a similar measure in 2010, and he wants the homeowners he represents in foreclosure proceedings to have their property rights decided by a judge.

Source: The Miami Herald, “Rick Scott, GOP to consider taking courts out of foreclosure process,” Janet Zink, Sept. 21, 2011