Homeowners and investors who received notice of Florida foreclosure over the last several years but have yet to receive word the case has been either completed or dismissed are in a precarious legal and financial position.
Pending cases are where our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys are seeing some of the most egregious foreclosure abuses. Initially, when the housing bubble burst, there was a massive influx of foreclosure filings in Florida courts. This resulted in the so-called “rocket docket” that involved widespread lender abuses such as “robo-signing.” This practice involved falsifying formal ownership documents in order to shove these cases quickly through the system.
When all this came to light, hundreds of thousands of foreclosure cases ground to a halt.
Because these cases were essentially dormant for years, foreclosure defendants were lulled into a false sense of security.
Recent legislation has resurrected many foreclosure claims. Unfortunately, some cases not previously considered ripe to proceed are not only moving forward, but are resulting in summary judgments or default judgments favoring banks because borrowers didn’t act quickly enough.Zombie Foreclosures
One of the biggest issues in Florida has been “zombie foreclosures.”
These are cases long thought to be “dead,” but are suddenly brought back to life with a few motions filed in court. Borrowers – many who moved out of the property years earlier, assuming foreclosure was imminent – are blind-sided to learn the case remained pending the whole time and worse, they lost the opportunity to fight back.
Real estate researchers at RealtyTrac report Florida cities – including Miami – have consistently held three of the top five spots nationally for the most zombie foreclosures.
There have also been situations where borrowers received court documents clearly indicating, “The Case is Dismissed.” In reality, the case was not truly dismissed, as bank lawyers quietly revived the case and immediately set it for a final judgment hearing.
This is why it is so imperative not to ignore any formal notices, or to trust your own knowledge of Florida foreclosure law. The legal landscape of Florida foreclosure law is fluid, changing constantly. Our experienced lawyers are prepared to help you formulate a timely, effective defense to these proceedings.Florida Fair Foreclosure Act
In 2013, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law House Bill 87, now referenced as Chapter 2013-137 or the Florida Fair Foreclosure Act. The measure imposed substantial changes to mortgages foreclosure filings in Florida.
Enacted in response to the backlog of foreclosure cases, the act was intended to minimize the impact to the judicial system. The average time to complete a residential foreclosure in Florida prior to passage of the cat was 853 days – more than twice the national average of 414 days. It’s a legitimate concern, but in practice, fast-tracking foreclosures has resulted in curtailing homeowner rights.
While the law does mandate banks file a clear chain of ownership and evidence of delinquency, homeowners were granted just 20 days to respond to these claims. The measure also prevents homeowners whose homes were illegally foreclosed from getting them back.
It also allows retired senior judges to continue to serve, despite not facing re-election or re-appointment, as required by the state constitution.
Additionally, the law allows third parties – including condominium and homeowner associations – to initiate an expedited foreclosure.New Protections Under Dodd-Frank
One of the positive measures to emerge from the foreclosure crisis fiasco is the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Under provisions of this measure effective January 2014, mortgage servicers must:
- Provide borrowers with more comprehensive information about their mortgage loans, including interest-rate adjustment notices, as well as prompt response to information requests and error reports.
- Offer borrowers assistance if they are having difficulty making payments, including assigning a single point of contact, initiation of contact within 36 days of delinquency and fully advising of foreclosure alternatives.
- Protect borrowers from wrongful actions by promptly crediting mortgage payments, not “dual-tracking” loans (simultaneously engaging in foreclosure and loan modification) and offering force-placed insurance avoidance information.
Despite these protections, homeowner rights are often still in jeopardy. If your Florida foreclosure case is pending, you must seek assistance from an experienced defense lawyer in order to protect your assets and interests.
Negotiate From Strength by calling the Miami Foreclosure Defense Lawyers at Jacobs Keeley today at (305) 358-7991.