Posted By Larry Tolchinsky on February 8, 2011
What’s a wrongful foreclosure and are you the victim of one? Not easy questions to answer.
1. Florida Lawyers are having to enhance their knowledge of Florida foreclosure law. Ethics code requires Florida lawyers to report any suspicious or wrongful foreclosure activity.
As reported in the Miami Herald last week, Florida attorneys are being required to report to judges whenever they come across a situation where they suspect an illegal, or wrongful foreclosure. In fact, a free online class is even being offered to lawyers state-wide by the Florida Bar to help them understand what they need to be looking for, giving them details on what things like “robo-signing” mean, and how to discover when a foreclosure may violate Florida law even after the property has been sold at auction.
Attorneys interested in the details of this new requirement should check the current issue of The Florida Bar News. For those Florida lawyers interested in the online class, they can download the foreclosure continuing legal education course at The Florida Bar 24/7 Online CLE Catalog.
2. Florida citizens may be victims of an unprecedented range of illegal activity – all under the heading of “wrongful foreclosure.”
As for when a foreclosure is “wrongful,” and what legal remedies may be available to (1) the property owner who bought a foreclosed property or (2) the mortgagor (former property owner) who lost their home to foreclosure, there are no pat answers and each case will depend on its facts as to whether there has been a violation of Florida or Federal law.
One good summary article that provides a broad brush on defining “wrongful foreclosure” is the ProPublica article written last fall by Marian Wang. Entitled “Primer: What Is a Wrongful Foreclosure?” this short list gives an overview of the more common legal violations that are being seen across the country in the ForeclosureGate crisis. There, Wang describes examples like 1) institutions trying to foreclose but being unable to provide legal documentation that shows they have the right to do so or 2) foreclosure sales taking place while the homeowner was in the middle of a loan modification with the bank.
However, as the bloggers at HousingDoom point out, Ms. Wang’s article does not give all of the possible examples of wrongful foreclosure because of the difficulties in doing so. Unfortunately, each day comes with a list of new complex issues caused by ForeclosureGate and these issues are revealing a plethora of examples of how state and federal laws can and are being violated by banks wrongfully grabbing homes and reselling them.
3. Today, there is no set definition of Wrongful Foreclosure. Your best course of action is to ask a Florida foreclosure lawyer for help.
The sad reality today is that financial institutions across the country, and particularly here in the State of Florida, have been tremendously creative in the ways that they have violated both the laws of contract and the laws governing property in their rush to grab real estate and get it off of their books. Stories pop up almost daily about crazy and bizarre foreclosure stories. People who didn’t even own property have been the subject of a foreclosure lawsuit. Innocent condo buyers have learned that they don’t own their homes, because the innocent seller didn’t own it either since the bank he bought it from never had title.
The only way to truly know whether or not you have been the victim of wrongful foreclosure today is to get legal counsel. If you have any suspicion that you may be another ForeclosureGate statistic, then ask a real estate lawyer for guidance.