As reported in Florida Politics:

Sen. Ileana Garcia and Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin held a news conference in the Capitol on Monday to unveil legislation designed to protect Floridians from predatory foreclosure practices.

The proposal (SB 1706/HB 1051) includes several provisions spelling out homeowners rights and responsibilities when dealing with mortgage lenders and servicers, such as a requirement that borrowers receive monthly billing statements, new guidelines for loan modification applications, clarity on mortgage transfers, and a foreclosure freeze period — a practice, also known as “dual tracking,” where banks continue foreclosure proceedings while a homeowner seeks a loan modification.

“This bill, if passed into law, would clean up many of these practices and institute guidelines for the loan modification process and lender-placed insurance,” Garcia said. “Our state’s economy is booming, along with our housing market, and we should take actions to protect every Floridian, old and young, from being able to enjoy the fruits of their success and secure their hard-earned slice of the American dream.”

Fernandez-Barquin added, “The bottom line is homeownership, and the business of paying a mortgage, should be as simple, streamlined, and transparent as possible. That’s what we are trying to do with this bill.”

The lawmakers, both South Florida Republicans, debuted the legislation alongside homeowners and fair lending advocates who shared their experiences going through foreclosures.

“Sadly, not all mortgage servicers and lenders are acting in good faith to keep Floridians in their homes,” said Laura Wagner, executive director of Floridians for Honest Lending. “These actions have real consequences for real people across our state. By enacting a homeowner bill of rights, we can ensure that Floridians have basic rights to be treated fairly, and no bank or mortgage servicer will infringe on their right, as Americans, to own their piece of the American dream.

“We are so grateful for Sen. Garcia and Rep. Fernandez-Barquin’s efforts to do just that with this bill, and we are hopeful that the Florida Legislature will pass these bills through both chambers.”

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