(written by Jonathan Paul, Associate Attorney)
It has now been several months since you were unable to continue paying your mortgage. You may have made the decision to stop paying the mortgage for any number of reasons. But most likely you decided that you could no longer keep the lights on and the family fed while also paying the over-inflated mortgage payment.
Maybe your decision was based on a reasoned financial calculation that the property is simply not worth what is owed on it and it is time to consider alternatives. You should know that the lenders, and, generally speaking, the courts, do not care what your reason may be.
The lender only knows that their bottom line is no longer being covered on this note, and they must take action to secure their financial interest in the home. As a result, while we are sympathetic to the hardships our clients are facing, we must look to the root of the issue: there is a contract that the lender is going to seek to enforce.
There was once a time in Florida when you could almost count on the lender waiting a year to initiate a foreclosure action against you. Generally speaking, we are no longer in those times. Lenders are moving more swiftly to file actions, and recently added and changed Florida laws allow for the faster movement of such a law suit through the court system. This is obviously not to your benefit.
Florida is a judicial foreclosure state, meaning the lender is required to file a law suit and take it through judgment. The lender cannot simply petition or publish a foreclosure notice on you and take your home.
You know that the law suit is coming, the lender has called and told you they will be foreclosing upon you, or you have received a letter from their attorney, or you received a letter stating that you were in default (many mortgages require this last letter).
Finally, you receive a knock on your front door, and you are faced by a sheriff’s deputy or process server and handed a thick, terrifying stack of papers.
Take a deep breath, this is not the end of the road.
Under Florida law, you have 20 days to respond to the allegations in the Complaint. The lender’s attorney may have made a mistake in the filing, which would warrant a Motion to Dismiss, there are assertions and defenses that must be raised in a Motion to Dismiss, or they are forever waived. There are Defenses that can, and must, be raised if you hope to fight the action.
The best possible course of action when you are faced with the reality of a foreclosure law suit is to seek the advice and counsel of an attorney. We are well versed on all aspects of Florida foreclosure cases, and I have handled cases from pre-suit all the way through trial and post-trial proceedings. We have represented, and continue to represent, homeowners of single and multiple properties.
I have prevailed in many heavily litigated foreclosure suits. While past results are no guarantee of future successes, I would be pleased to meet with you and candidly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your particular case, as every case requires and calls for individual evaluation and attention.
Our first foreclosure consultation is always free of charge, and we would be pleased to meet and work with you and your family.
Come back for more information on what steps are typical of a foreclosure action.