A lawsuit filed last week in federal court is hoping to block collection attempts on unpaid mortgage debt from foreclosures that took place years ago. A deadline change in the state’s law started a mass filing this year of deficiency judgment claims against defaulted borrowers, including at least 110 lawsuits in Palm Beach County since June 1.
The problem is that the claims violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in cases where the suit is filed in Florida, but the borrower has since moved out of state. There is a class action lawsuit being sought in the Middle District of Florida on behalf of Massachusetts resident Richard Simpson, who lost a Jacksonville home to foreclosure in 2009.
Simpson was sued for a $26,651 deficiency in February, but many of the claims are for amounts greater than that. It is typically the difference between what the home is sold for at auction and the remaining mortgage debt.
The goal is to sue the out-of-state defendants who have just 20 days to respond, and then get a default judgment when they do not respond on time. Approximately 10,000 deficiency judgment claims have been filed in Florida.
Many homeowners are taken completely by surprise, unaware that the banks have a right to do this. Deficiency judgments used to be so rare that underwater homeowners simply took the chance and walked away, thinking the worst thing that could happen is that they lose their home.
A change in Florida law that went into effect July 1, 2013, reduced the timeline that banks and mortgage companies have to file for a deficiency judgment from five years to one year after a foreclosure is final, which is when the home is sold at auction.
Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.