Boca Raton Foreclosure Defense Lawyer
In a few jurisdictions, home foreclosures require court orders. But Florida is a non-judicial foreclosure state. Since there is no judicial oversight, the bank could take your home, and you never get your day in court. During this process, lenders are supposed to follow certain rules, most of which were set out in the National Mortgage Settlement which came on the heels of the 2008 housing crisis. But since Florida lenders know no judge is involved, they often feel free to break these rules at will.
Banks might talk about the value of home ownership, but they are really only concerned about their own profits. In contrast, the dedicated Boca Raton foreclosure defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Orchard are only concerned about you. We thoroughly review your case and go all over all your bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy options. Once we decide on a course of action together, our professional team never stops fighting for you.
National Mortgage Settlement Violations
Mortgage bank and servicer recklessness largely triggered the aforementioned housing crisis. For example, some lenders offered zero-documentation loans. The bank loaned money without requiring proof of income or even residency. It’s little wonder that a large number of these loans went into foreclosure.
Other mortgage banks offered risky adjustable rate mortgages to borrowers who could ill afford this risk. When interest rates went up and their home values went down, the results were disastrous.
The 2012 National Mortgage Settlement set concrete standards in this area. Many of these rules had never existed before. Some examples include:
- No Dual Tracking: Banks cannot simultaneously pursue foreclosure while offering a mortgage modification. During the housing crisis, banks routinely used false promises of loan modifications to increase the homeowner’s delinquency.
- Document Requirements: Frequently, banks rushed through foreclosure and then filed the appropriate paperwork after the fact. That’s especially true if the documents at issue were electronic.
- Staffing/Communication: Distressed homeowners must have a single point of contact in a mortgage bank. There’s no more shuffling homeowners around between different agents in different departments. Furthermore, the servicing company must meet certain staff level standards.
The NMS also included provisions for loan modifications, home loan refinancing, and payments to homeowners whose loans were wrongfully foreclosed.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
In a few cases, the bank has dotted all the Is and crossed all the Ts. If our Boca Raton foreclosure defense attorneys do not identify an NMS or other defense, we typically recommend Chapter 13 bankruptcy. That’s a better option than running up legal fees in a case that has little chance of success.
Chapter 13 filers get to keep their homes in most cases. The law gives homeowners up to five years to erase past-due mortgage payments. During this time, the bank cannot take any adverse action against your family.
Application for TRO
An application for a Temporary Restraining Order is the usual foreclosure defense vehicle. If the homeowner establishes a prima facie case of lender wrongdoing, as outlined above, the judge will stop the foreclosure until the case can be heard.
Generally, homeowners must establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. That’s the lowest standard of proof in Florida law. So, in many cases, an affidavit from the homeowner is sufficient, at least initially, to secure a TRO.
These cases are quite complex. For example, banks routinely try to quite literally make a federal case out of it. They try to move these disputes to federal court, which is a much more bank-friendly forum. So, our professional team works to keep these cases in state court, where they are easier and less expensive to resolve on favorable terms.
Contact a Dedicated Palm Beach County Foreclosure Defense Lawyer
If crushing debt is a problem, legal solutions are available. For a free consultation with an experienced Boca Raton foreclosure defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Orchard. Convenient payment plans are available.