The Florida foreclosure process has a very standard timeline that you need to understand if you’re looking to keep your home.
First, let’s look at how filing for bankruptcy in Florida may affect the foreclosure process. If you are interested in saving your home from foreclosure, filing for bankruptcy may be a good way to do it. A Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be filed seconds before your foreclosure auction is scheduled to take place, and automatically stops the auction.
Practically though, you need to start working on a bankruptcy well in advance of the auction in order to maximize the chances that the foreclosure process is handled properly. Florida bankruptcy cases are highly technical, especially in light of the growing foreclosure crisis.
Second, let’s say you already filed for bankruptcy in Florida – Chapter 7
or Chapter 13
– and have just found out that the foreclosure process has begun or is continuing. That’s the more pressing question on your mind today.
A typical foreclosure in Florida follows this order:
1. Foreclosure complaint
2. If no answer filed by homeowner, then default judgment in as few as 20 days.
3. Summary Judgment (there are no issues of fact at all)
4. Sale date no sooner than 30 days after receiving summary judgment.
During this process, the attorney handling the Florida foreclosure case for the bank will submit an affidavit of attorney fees and costs.
This is the most common phone call or email I receive from clients who have already filed bankruptcy to surrender a property…
“I thought you got rid of this property in bankruptcy for me and now they are charging me attorney fees!”
“Why am I being served with foreclosure if I surrendered the property in the bankruptcy?” If you already filed bankruptcy, and surrendered the property, or did not reaffirm the debt, then you cannot be held personally liable for any attorney fees or costs. The bank will have to pay the attorney for handling the foreclosure, period.
Think of this more as information for the court file. Not as an attempt to collect from you. Now if the lender or attorney actually sent you something separate, or calling you, asking for you to pay these amounts, then that would be improper – and I need to know about it.
As to the second question, even when you surrender a property in bankruptcy, the lender still has to start and finish a foreclosure in order to terminate your legal interest in the property. Even though you surrendered the property, up to the moment the house is sold at auction, you have the right to reinstate or payoff your mortgage to keep your home. Therefore, you have to be notified of every step in the foreclosure process so that you are always aware of your rights and the time you have to “save” your property.
Once clients understand that this is normal, then the next response is: should I file something with the court? No.
If you surrendered the property, and really don’t want it, why slow down the process? We want the bank to take back the property and get it out of your name. Sometimes there are continuing water bills, city code enforcement issues, or other issues to worry about in having a property still in your name.
The sooner the bank takes the property back, the sooner you can move on and not have any further worries about a house you no longer want to keep.