Recently, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion on the long awaited Bartram v. U.S. Bank, N.A., matter. What it held, and how it reasoned its holding, is difficult to determine due to what appears to be two completely different positions taken within the opinion. The opinion is sure to muddy the waters to an even greater degree than they already had been.
The bottom line of the opinion, however, is clear – there will be no free houses awarded through the Florida courts as a result of the statute of limitations, at least in any foreseeable time period.
For those of us that have been eagerly awaiting this opinion, the end result is not altogether surprising. Many of us even thought that the Court would not issue an opinion as the various District Courts of Appeal have largely resolved their differences in en banc or other opinions.
While we are disappointed with the outcome, it is no shock that the Court held in a fashion consistent with another case called Singleton v. Greymar, from about a decade ago.
What is unclear to many though is what the case actually means outside of the end result. The language of the case seems to contradict itself on more than one occasion.
The opinion starts out by holding that the mortgage loan is reinstated by the involuntary dismissal, such that all payments that came due up to the time of the dismissal are wiped out, and the homeowner can start making the next monthly payment after the dismissal.
Alternatively, and later in the opinion, the Court holds that the parties are restored to their pre-foreclosure status, which would mean, by our reading, that any payments that are less than five (5) years old would be required to reinstate the loan.
So what does this mean for you, the homeowner?
Well, in some cases it may not even apply, as the Bartram case addresses only involuntary dismissals (with or without prejudice does not matter according to the opinion). Most refiled foreclosures are the result of voluntary dismissals, to which the case law remains unresolved and unclear.
How should you address resolving the issues with the lender?
The first, and best suggestion that can be made, is that you should speak to an experienced real estate attorney who can review your original case, and the issues in that case.
The decision is not final until the time to file a motion for rehearing expires, or if filed, ruled upon.
Should you have any questions about your foreclosure cases, please contact our office for a free initial consultation to discuss you options.