Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Could Illinois Benefit from Fast-Track Foreclosure Laws?

Despite the fact that the foreclosure crisis is largely over, many homes remain in foreclosure in the Chicago area, and many families are still at risk of losing their homes due to the inability to make monthly mortgage payments. An article in Chicago Now indicates that Chicago foreclosures have reached a record low—including homes that are newly entering foreclosure as well as those that are part of the shadow inventory. However, the total number of homes in the Chicago area at some stage of the foreclosure process was already higher than in many other major urban areas.
While foreclosure numbers appear to be declining, is it time for Illinois to consider foreclosure fast-tracking laws? According to a recent article in DSNews.com, a fast-track foreclosure law could be a “much-needed remedy” for Chicago and for Illinois more generally.
What are Fast-Track Foreclosure Laws?
Currently, according to the article, only two states have what are known as fast-track foreclosure laws: Ohio and Maryland. However, a handful of additional states, including Illinois, are considering implementing similar laws to speed up the foreclosure process. So, what are fast-track foreclosure laws? In short, they are designed to speed up the foreclosure process and to prevent a growing number of homes from making up a shadow inventory. Yet fast-track laws can vary from state to state.
In Ohio, for instance, the fast-track foreclosure law “authorizes an expedited foreclosure action against vacant and abandoned single-family residential properties, allows the bank or servicer to enter and secure such properties, and criminalizes the damaging or diminishing of property in any way by a homeowner from the time they are notified of an impending foreclosure action.” In addition, the Ohio law prevents an owner from reacquiring a mortgage for a vacant or abandoned residential property once the property has been sold.
While the Ohio law has specific elements that would not need to be adopted by every state implementing fast-track laws, it sets similar goals to other states (even if those states do not yet have fast-track laws in place) to prevent the foreclosure process from lingering, sometimes for years, and leading to blighted neighborhoods and decreasing home values. With fast-track laws, the goal is for homes that enter the foreclosure process to become occupied against as quickly as possible, and for those homes to be maintained—such that they can be readily sold—during the foreclosure process.
Will Illinois Adopt a Fast-Track Foreclosure Law?
According to some commentators, Illinois is close to having a fast-track foreclosure law of its own. Not only could such a law help to keep home values up, but it could also improve the mental health of those affected by foreclosure. Whether your home has entered the foreclosure process or you are living in a community that has been saliently impacted by foreclosures (and now, vacant homes), the National Institutes of Health notes that “foreclosures adversely affect health and mental health on both the individual and community levels.”
If you have questions about foreclosure laws in Illinois, or if you need help avoiding foreclosure, an experienced Oak Park foreclosure defense lawyer can assist you. Contact the Emerson Law Firm to learn more about how we can help.
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