Why Should the Public Care About Florida Foreclosure Laws and Oversight?
As mentioned in our previous Florida foreclosure process blog post, banks and their advocates will always argue that a faster Foreclosure process in Florida is better for the economy and will turn around the housing market faster. Even if this is true (and our previous blog post points out that banks cannot show empirical support for their arguments), why should we care about judicial oversight of the foreclosure process?
First, there is ample evidence that when left to their own devices, banks and servicers will not “do the right thing.” Our Florida foreclosure attorney Dustin Zacks’ Loyola Law Review Article suggests the following:
Lenders and banks, when confronted with indisputable evidence of robo-signing and fraudulent documentation, at first only halted their foreclosures in judicial foreclosure states.
This can only lead to the conclusion that banks did not expect that such fraud would be widely discovered in non-judicial states, where judicial scrutiny is far less prevalent.
While certain banks eventually extended their temporary moratorium nationwide, their attitude toward scrutiny of documentation was clear—if they thought they could get away with submitting fraudulent documentation to courts, they would attempt to do so far from the gazing eyes of the public
Given banks’ and servicers’ track record, can supporters of a shorter Florida foreclosure process actually assert that less meaningful judicial review would produce positive externalities in terms of the integrity of court processes? Can anyone say with a straight face that we should trust banks and servicers to do the right thing when courts aren’t looking?
Secondly, even when banks and lenders were caught red-handed using questionable documentation and practices, those practices did not necessarily cease, according to Reuters and other news sources. Similarly, Fannie Mae and the Government Sponsored Entities continued to retain law firms being investigated by the Florida attorney general long after significant accusations of questionable practices emerged. It does not take a law degree to figure out that less government oversight of the foreclosure process would essentially sweep many troubling practices under the proverbial rug. After all, even bringing such practices to light did not result in their complete eradication.
Finally, even if empirical evidence conclusively showed that speeding up foreclosure processes would turn around the housing market more quickly, we could never adequately weigh the cost of such a benefit against fundamental principles of liberty and justice. Consider the comments of Nevada Assemblyman Marcus Conklin, when Nevada was considering increasing penalties for engaging in robo-signing practices:
Will some actions take a little longer? Yes.
But what is it worth to know that what we are doing is right and just? Are we willing to sell out justice for some free market principle so someone can take hold of your property who has no right to it in the first place? These are fundamental questions that we cannot dismiss because we are in a rush to get to a better day tomorrow. A better day tomorrow at the cost of liberty and justice may not be worth having. Please consider that, if that is the direction you choose to go.
We need your help: to get involved, share your story, or to see how you can help oppose draconian changes in Florida foreclosure laws, contact us.