I Beat My Foreclosure In Florida. How Do I Get My Greedy SOB Lender To Pay My Legal Bill?
So now you have bragging rights. You are one of the few homeowners in Florida who can hold their head up high and proclaim, “I beat my foreclosure!”
So, now you’re feeling euphoric. Your head is spinning with million different thoughts and feelings.
Then reality sets in. You realized you just shelled out $60,000 in legal costs to save your house.
You want the bastard bankers to pay for it.
But can you get it? The answer is a bit complicated. MFI-Miami has been involved in cases where lenders have been forced to pay the homeowner’s legal costs.
I Beat My Florida Foreclosure. How Do I Get My Lender To Re-Imburse Me For Legal Fees?
The answer to this question is kind of complicated. It depends upon the circumstances of their case. Here are 2 fact patterns where a bank can be required to pay a homeowner’s legal costs.
1. Bank Voluntarily Dismisses the Foreclosure Lawsuit
They can do so by filing a “notice to dismiss.”
In Florida, if the bank voluntarily dismisses the foreclosure action, then the borrower may be able to recover the expenses to defend him or herself.
The prevailing homeowner can say, “I beat my foreclosure!”
But can the lender be forced to re-imburse them for their legal fees.
Well, it’s complicated.
The answer is explained in the case of Bis V. US Bank Nat. Ass’n, 172 So. 3d 971 (Fla. 4thDist. Ct. App. 2015).
In 2015, homeowners Steven and Eugenia Bis took their foreclosure case to the Florida 4th District Court of Appeals to appeal the trial judge’s denial of their request for the bank to pay their attorneys’ fees and court costs.
In part, their appeal was successful. The court ruled that the couple could get the bank to cover the legal expenses they incurred in defending against the foreclosure. However, the bank would not be forced to reimburse them for their attorneys’ fees.
The Bis’s saga began several years prior, The note holder, US Bank National Association (US Bank), filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the couple. The parties were unable to resolve their differences during settlement negotiations. As a result, the Bises hired a lawyer and fought the US Bank foreclosure action.
The case progressed like most foreclosure lawsuits. Then at the day of trial, US Bank filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of the case. The Bis’ were glad the case was dismissed. However, they wanted to get their costs covered by the bank.
So, the Bis’ filed a request with the Florida judge that US Bank be forced to cover their legal fees and costs.
Thwarted By Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.420(d)
The appeals court found that US Bank had followed Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.420. the rule provides that costs are to be assessed in the action that is the subject of the voluntary dismissal. See, Wilson v. Rose Printing Co., 624 So.2dca 257, 258 (Fla.1993).
Unfortunately, this rule does not provide for attorneys’ fees. So, the borrowers could get their costs reimbursed by US Bank but not their legal fees.
2. Sanctions Against The Lender
If the lender wrongfully files a foreclosure lawsuit against the borrower, then the lender may be forced to reimburse the borrower for their legal fees and court costs. This is done by the court assessing sanctions against the bank.
This scenario is explained in the case of Snow v. Rosse, 455 So.2d 615, 617 (Fla.2ndDist.Ct.App.1984).
One Way To Get Sanctions In A Foreclosure Lawsuit
The borrowers provided proof that they had sent mortgage checks. They could prove there was fraudulent activity on the part of the lender. What happened was that the servicer didn’t apply the payments to the mortgage.
The trial court rules that under Florida Statute 57.105, the borrowers could be awarded their attorneys’ fees after they were victorious in defeating the foreclosure lawsuit.
In this case, the award of attorneys’ fees and court costs was considered a sanction against the lender and servicer. The court considered the servicers actions a wrongful act.
What Should You Do After I Beat My Foreclosure?
In Florida, there are instances where a lender will pay a homeowner their legal fees for defending their foreclosure defense costs. However, those situations are case specific. So discuss your options with your attorney.
If you believe you have grounds to fight your foreclosure, MFI-Miami can help point you in the right direction. We can put you in touch with an experienced Florida foreclosure defense lawyer.
If you need more information about how the Florida foreclosure process, call us at 888.737.6344. We can also refer you to one of our lawyers with experience in foreclosures and loan modifications.
Read More About Florida Foreclosures On MFI-Miami.