Monday, June 07, 2010

Florida Supremes Issue Rule Clarification Targeting Mess Created By Foreclosure Mills' Sloppy Paperwork

In Central Florida, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reports:
  • The Florida Supreme Court has reaffirmed its fight against the sloppy legal work being used to retake homes in thousands of foreclosure cases across the state.

  • A review of Manatee and Sarasota county cases showed attorneys for banks and lenders had widely ignored a new high court rule that requires them to verify -- under penalty of perjury -- the accuracy of allegations and paperwork in the foreclosure case. When local judges started throwing out the foreclosure cases for that reason, some attorneys for lenders contended that the rule, created in February, was not yet in effect.

  • But the top court this week clarified that attorneys must immediately follow its verification rule as part of its overall battle against the flood of foreclosure cases clogging the court system when the housing market crashed.

  • The uncertainty over the high court ruling illustrates the chaos in foreclosure courts across the state. The vast majority of the state's housing lawsuits come from Florida's five so-called foreclosure mills, where attorneys can each handle thousands of cases. Sloppy paperwork could mean banks and lenders foreclose on properties they are not legally entitled to retake, unfairly forcing homeowners out of their properties, attorneys say. The shoddy and incomplete filings also waste judicial resources.


  • Thursday's ruling clears the way for a local court-sponsored program -- unofficially dubbed "Stop the Slop" -- to once again review all foreclosure filings and dismiss those that are incomplete. Of the 52 cases in the first round of review in Sarasota, all lacked the new verification requirement or other proof the bank is entitled to take the property, an attorney who reviewed the cases says. The vast majority reviewed since then have also failed to meet the requirements.

For more, see Florida Supreme Court tightening foreclosure rules.