A foreclosure, never mind a wrongful one, can put any homeowner in a state of total confusion. If the home of your dream was foreclosed on because of a mistake that you have nothing to do with, Florida law allows you the opportunity to challenge the bank’s decision and get your home back.
Real estate property foreclosures can be complicated and filing a claim may require the help of an experienced foreclosure attorney. The first step in challenging a wrongful foreclosure in Orlando should thus be to talk to a lawyer.
When to challenge the foreclosure
Whether or not the foreclosed home was your primary residence, it is important to start the appeal process as soon as the bank notifies you of the imminent action. This means you can appeal the decision even before the actual foreclosure takes place. A successful reversal of the lender’s decision at this stage is called an injunction and is done to stop the implementation of the foreclosure until an associated lawsuit is solved.
In Florida, you have up to two years to decide if you are going to file a lawsuit to challenge a foreclosure or not. That is enough time for your lawyer to go through all the documents and determine if you stand a chance of regaining possession of your home. A judge can award you an injunction if they determine that you are entitled to it and if you can prove that you face irreparable harm if the injunction is not issued.
Damages available to you following a wrongful foreclosure
If a bank hits you with a foreclosure that the court later rules as wrongful, damages available to you include:
- Compensation for the detriment suffered, which is awarded according to the value of the property
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages, if the trustee or servicer is found to have committed fraud
If the court finds the borrower’s allegations to be true, the servicer will be ordered to undue the foreclosure sale and recompense the borrower’s legal expenses.
Note that the matter doesn’t always have to end in an actual trial. The lender may realize their mistake and decide to settle it out of court. Usually, they will make a cash offer and the borrower will accept it or deny it. A foreclosure lawyer will help you come up with a settlement estimate so you know what to accept from the lender. Many foreclosure lawyers work on contingency, and will only accept a payment once they have won a settlement for you. You can thus still file a wrongful foreclosure claim even if you don’t have the money to afford legal representation on cash basis.
The settlement amount may vary depending on such factors as magnitude of the inconvenience caused, borrower’s military status, and the mortgage amount. A good wrongful foreclosure lawyer will work to build a strong case for a large settlement. After all, their remuneration is usually an agreed percentage of the settlement, meaning a larger settlement will be an advantage to them as well.