February 26, 2014

Florida Governor Rick Scott Fast Tracks Foreclosures

One Way House.jpgThe State of Florida is second in the nation in foreclosures, creating a backlog of hundreds of thousands of foreclosure cases across the state. In an effort to flush these cases from the court system, Governor Rick Scott recently signed into law House Bill 87, The Florida Fair Foreclosure Act, which fast tracks residential foreclosures by allowing banks to foreclose on homeowners more quickly. The bill was widely disputed by consumer advocates who claim it is extremely biased against Florida homeowners who wish to save their homes as it gives the Courts the ability to award a judgment to the banks solely upon the bank proving itself to be the owner of the subject note and mortgage. The law, which has been translated into statute, became effective June 7, 2013. Florida homeowners who default on their mortgages need to be aware of the change to the law, as it greatly affects the protocol in defending the foreclosure case. Understanding the new law and securing an experienced foreclosure attorney to represent them in the defense of the foreclosure as soon as they are served is the key to saving their homes.

Florida Statute §702.10 (2) states in part that, “If, upon examination of the complaint, the court finds that the complaint is verified and alleges a cause of action to foreclose on real property, the court shall promptly issue an order directed to the defendant to show cause why a final judgment of foreclosure should not be entered.” This puts the onus on homeowners to file “defenses by a motion or by a verified or sworn answer at or before the hearing to show cause constitutes cause for the court not to enter the attached final judgment.” The Court can set the show cause hearing as few as 20 days from the date of the order. “If the defendant fails to appear at the hearing to show cause or fails to file defenses by a motion or by a verified or sworn answer or files an answer not contesting the foreclosure, the defendant may be considered to have waived the right to a hearing and in such case the court may enter a final judgment of foreclosure ordering the clerk of the court to conduct a foreclosure sale.” A foreclosure sale may be set in as few as 30 days from the final judgment, leaving Florida families on the streets in as little as 2 months.

The law also has a controversial element with regard to the finality of final judgments of foreclosure. The new law creates Florida Statute §702.036, which prohibits the Court from returning a foreclosed property to a Defendant who seeks to invalidate a judgment in a property which has been sold and where title has been exchanged to a third party buyer. Now the Court may only grant monetary damages in cases where the party was properly served, final judgment was entered, appeals were either not resolved and/or have been resolved and where title was given to a third party not affiliated with the foreclosing lender or the foreclosed owner. This provision which limits a homeowner’s right to relief from a judgment, may prove to be unlawful in the end, but has yet to go on appeal.

Florida foreclosure defense attorneys, Frederick Neustein and Charles Neustein of Neustein Law Group, P.A. will continue to fight to help save Floridian’s homes. “The banks have lobbyists, but they aren’t present in the courtroom. We will continue to aggressively defend all foreclosure cases and continue to fight for our clients and their homes in a court of law. We have been successful and are optimistic to continue to build upon our excellent track record.”

The team of foreclosure lawyers at The Neustein Law Group, P.A., serves residents of the Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and throughout the State of Florida when they have been struggling financially and are looking to save their homes. To learn more about your rights and how you can protect your home, contact us today – 561-235-0700 (Boca Raton Office), 561-232-3788 (West Palm Beach Office), 305-531-2545 (Miami Beach Headquarters) or 888-400-ATTY (2889) (Toll Free).