Should Florida Property Owners Proceed Pro Se and Represent Themselves in Legal Claims or Quiet Title Actions? Probably Not. Here’s Why.

Posted By on April 12, 2012

Florida law does allow individuals to proceed with civil actions without an attorney – in legal jargon, it’s called representing yourself “pro se.”  In this economy, finding ways to avoid the expense of attorneys’ fees sounds smart, and there are situations where a Floridian is somewhat savvy to handle their own legal matter.

For instance, a simple non-contested divorce may be easy enough to accomplish, if you do your homework and if you truly have an agreement between the spouses to part ways, and there’s no technical property issues, etc. In fact, the Florida Supreme Court has even approved forms for Floridians to use in non-contested, simple divorces which are available for download.

Florida Real Estate Climate May Not Be Appropriate for Pro Se / Do-It-Yourself Litigants

However, in the current Wild West chaos of Florida real estate matters these days, it’s debatable whether or not Florida real estate owners would be wise to proceed in Florida real estate controversies without gaining the advice and counsel of a Florida real estate attorney.  Why?

Things are so complicated in the law right now — real estate law, contract law, even tort law (negligence, fraud, etc.) are all being challenged as new and previously unforeseen scenarios have popped up in the past few years, all because of Foreclosure Fraud, robosigning, and the like.

Consider loan modifications, for example. The need for loan modifications skyrocketed in the past few years as Florida home owners with home loans and real estate mortgages needed to revamp their deals with their banks and avoid foreclosure.  The loan modification business became like an erupting volcano of profits for lots of folk – so much so that in 2010, the Florida legislature passed new laws trying to control things requiring Florida loan modification businesses to have a license from the State of Florida in order to legally operate.

What happened in loan modifications for mortgages? Banks never did agree to modify many loans, even when the Florida Supreme Court pushed for them as a solution to the bottle-necked foreclosure dockets.  And today, it’s being reported that the Florida Bar has 793 open disciplinary investigations against lawyers involved in loan modification cases.

Meanwhile, loan modification companies are also being legally challenged for bad acts (scams) in both civil and criminal courts.  This week, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Robert Mueller, spoke to the Miami Chamber of Commerce and said that one of the FBI’s new big targets were Florida loan modification scammers.

Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:

We have been monitoring shady loan modification practices for awhile now, along with bad debt collection practices connected with the Foreclosure Fraud mess.  Foreclosure Fraud has created a huge circus of legal problems with its blatant disregard of longstanding Florida real estate law and Florida contract law: laws and statutes that have been on the books for years and years have simply been ignored by banks, financial institutions, mortgage servicers, loan modification companies, debt collectors, and more.

By taking their own routes and using their own methods, a huge (HUGE) mess has been made of things and both the Florida Legislature and the Florida Courts will have to clean things up.  New laws will be passed.  Judges will make new rulings; appellate courts will issue new opinions.

This is already happening, but it will be years before things are back to a pristine condition – and back to a situation where a Florida individual would be safe to walk the steps of a pro se litigant.  Right now, walking those steps would be like walking on jello for someone without an experienced Florida real estate lawyer.

Florida Quiet Title Actions Probably Not a Good Pro Se Option

Which means that if you are considering filing a quiet title action, for example, you may find web sites that offer instructions (maybe even forms) for filing paperwork down at the courthouse and “clearing” the cloud on your real estate title without bothering to consult with an attorney.

It’s true that filing a quiet title action a few years back — say in 1990 — was a pretty simple matter.  So simple and straightforward that it might be compared to those do it yourself non-contested divorces discussed earlier.  No more.

Right now, Florida law is evolving regarding title to real estate.  Furthermore, each case  has own unique facts and circumstances for a homeowner to evaluate when deciding on the proper course of action.  Does the loan documentation regarding the mortgage still exist?  Was it lost?  Is the Note properly endorsed?  What about liens or other encumbrances?

Heck, right now Florida title insurance companies are wary of issuing title policies on Florida real estate.

Real estate title in Florida is a huge mess, and right now it’s important to have a Florida quiet title attorney on your side to make sure that you get what you need:  truly clear title to your property.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at info@hallandalelaw.com or (954) 458-8655.

Comments

9 Responses to “Should Florida Property Owners Proceed Pro Se and Represent Themselves in Legal Claims or Quiet Title Actions? Probably Not. Here’s Why.”

  1. Mary M. says:

    Wells Fargo states my mortgage has no legal description and have filed in court to correct this. Is this a big deal? Should I take some action? like calling title co? Any advice would be helpful.

  2. Suzana says:

    I filed a quiet title action and breach of contract pro se. Should i get an attorney to take over and amend if necessary? Defendant asked for enlargement of time to answer. I met with an attorney today who told me that banks now, due to new case law, can foreclose without chain of title and without proper assignment of mortgage as long as they have an assignment of note in blank, even if it is robo signed and not notarized. Is this true?

  3. Dear Suzana,
    First, thanks for writing! As for your quiet title action and BOK lawsuit, you’re asking about a particular situation here and while we’ve noted the topic for a future post here on the blog re blank assignments, it’s best for lawyers IMHO not to answer specific situations in comments on the blog.

    Why? For one thing, there’s the worry that someone might take that comment and run with it in their life, thinking that they are dealing with the same thing – when maybe they’ve got a twist or two which makes a difference. For another, the Florida Bar Association Rules could be read to prohibit a lengthy reply to your comment as online legal advice. That’s not allowed.

    If you want to send an email to me or pick up the phone to chat, I’d be happy to discuss this issue with you. I just don’t want to respond here, as a post comment.

    Thanks again,
    Larry

  4. Angelo says:

    need to talk to you guys about a 3 million dollar home I own which i believe ….

  5. Hi Angelo, We cannot answer personal queries in blog post comments, so we’ve edited your comment to protect your personal information and ask that you give our office a call (see the toll free number above?) for a chat.

    Thanks,
    Larry

  6. Sandy says:

    My house was scheduled for an auction date on 9/25/15. I received a notice from the Palm Beach Circuit Court that it was cancelled due to Wells Fargo ….improprieties and hopefully reverse the foreclosure and retain my home?

  7. Hi Sandy,
    Sorry if this is frustrating! However, we’re not allowed to answer personal queries in blog post comments, so we ask that you give our office a call (see the toll free number above?) for a chat.
    Thanks,
    Larry

  8. Susan Daley says:

    Hello,

    I purchased a 1 br, 1 1/2 ba condo ….

  9. Sorry if this is frustrating! However, we’re not allowed to answer personal queries in blog post comments, so we ask that you give our office a call (see the toll free number above?) for a chat about your situation.
    Thanks,
    Larry

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