Should Florida Property Owners Proceed Pro Se and Represent Themselves in Legal Claims or Quiet Title Actions? Probably Not. Here’s Why.
Posted By Larry Tolchinsky 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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 458-8655.