The COVID pandemic has had a devastating impact on the health and financial stability of many Floridians. In response to the COVID pandemic, Florida issued a foreclosure moratorium. A moratorium is a temporary prohibition or suspension of an activity. The foreclosure suspension was in effect for many months but recently expired. Fortunately, there may still be other options available to prevent foreclosure. To see which option may be best for your specific circumstances, contact a foreclosure defense lawyer in Tampa.
Florida COVID-19 Foreclosure Moratorium
On April 2, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-94 in response to the COVID crisis. The Order suspended foreclosure actions and evictions for 45 days. Shortly before its scheduled expiration, Governor DeSantis issued an additional extension for 30 days. The Governor continued to extend the Order each month for 30 days until recently. On September 30, 2020, Governor DeSantis announced he would not be extending the order and would allow it to expire on October 1, 2020.
Florida COVID-19 Moratorium Payments
Neither Executive Order 20-94 nor any subsequent Orders release homeowners from rent or mortgage obligations. Homeowners were required to continue to pay their mortgage during the Florida COVID foreclosure suspension. Therefore, if mortgage payments were not made during this time, homeowners may be in default and at risk of foreclosure.
Florida Foreclosures Rise
According to ATTOM Data Solutions, Florida had the country’s second-highest foreclosure filing rate in August. California was the only state with more foreclosure filings in August. The foreclosure crisis has especially hit Jacksonville hard. Among metropolitan areas with populations greater than 1 million, Jacksonville had the highest foreclosure rate. According to the study, one in every 5,877 housing units in Jacksonville was in foreclosure.
Florida also led the nation in new foreclosure starts during August. Foreclosure starts were up 24 percent nationally from July. Unfortunately, the rate of foreclosure may continue to rise due to the COVID pandemic. Approximately 10% of mortgages in Florida were 30 days or more delinquent. This is significantly higher than the national average of 7.3%
CARES ACT Mortgage Assistance for COVID-19
The CARES ACT was passed by Congress earlier this year to help alleviate the financial hardship caused by COVID. Under the CARES ACT, government-backed mortgages may be eligible for a mortgage forbearance of up to 180 days. A forbearance is when your lender suspends payments for a limited amount of time. Forbearance does not forgive or eliminate payments; it only delays them. Any missed payments during the forbearance period will need to be addressed when the forbearance ends.
The CARES ACT also prevents foreclosure of government-backed loans until December 31, 2020. No foreclosure case for a government-backed mortgage may be filed until after December 31, 2020. If a foreclosure case was already filled, the CARES ACT would prevent the auction from occurring before December 31, 2020.
Florida Foreclosure Trial
Foreclosure cases in Florida are conducted without a jury. Instead of a jury, the judge will decide the outcome of the case. Homeowners will have to persuade the judge to rule in their favor. Judges are typically a lot less likely to be swayed by fairness principles than a jury would be. Judges will usually want homeowners to rely on legal defenses to prevent foreclosure. For instance, relying on a bank’s customer service representative’s false statements may not be enough to stop a foreclosure. You should consult with a Tampa foreclosure attorney to learn more about potential legal defenses. There may be a legal defense that would require the judge to deny the foreclosure.
How To Cancel a Foreclosure Sale in Florida
Immediately after a homeowner files Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, an automatic stay will go into effect. The automatic stay requires all collection activity to stop immediately, including scheduled foreclosure sales. Even if the bankruptcy is filed only a few minutes before the auction, the foreclosure will be stopped. The bank will not be able to resume a foreclosure until the bankruptcy court has lifted the stay.
Consult a 5-Star Foreclosure Defense Law Firm
If you are at risk of foreclosure, contact Florida Law Advisers, P.A., to speak with a foreclosure defense attorney. We have years of experience in foreclosure defense and hundreds of 5-Star reviews from clients. Every foreclosure and bankruptcy case is different, and our vast experience allows us to cater our services to each client’s individual needs. Our initial consultations are free, and convenient payment plans are always available. Regardless, if you need help preventing foreclosure in Florida, Chapter 7, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we can help. Call us at (800) 990-7763 to speak with a foreclosure defense lawyer. We are available to answer your calls 24/7.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, when a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case is filed an automatic stay is instantly put into effect. The automatic stay is a federal law that stops all forms of collection activity, including foreclosure auctions already scheduled to occur.
A moratorium is a temporary prohibition or suspension of an activity. The foreclosure moratorium in Florida was lifted as of October 1, 2020, by Governor Rick DiSantis.
No, the foreclosure moratoriums enacted in Florida did not suspend payments. Homeowners were required to continue to pay their mortgage during the Florida COVID foreclosure suspension.
On April 2, 2020, Governor Rick DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-94 in an effort to alleviate the COVID crisis. The Order suspended foreclosure actions and evictions for 45 days. The Governor continued to extend the Order each month for 30 days until recently. Governor DeSantis announced he would allow the moratorium to expire on October 1, 2020.
The CARES ACT prevents foreclosure of government-backed mortgages until December 31, 2020. If a foreclosure case was already filed, the CARES ACT will prevent the auction from occurring prior to December 31, 2020. However, this only applies to government-backed mortgages.
A forbearance is when your lender suspends payments for a limited amount of time. Forbearance does not forgive or eliminate payments, it only delays them. Any missed payments during the forbearance period will need to be addressed when the forbearance ends.
In a Chapter 13 case, you can apply for a loan modification. You can also contact the bank directly to apply for a loan modification. It is not required to hire an attorney to modify your mortgage, but it may help to make the process easier and increase your chances of approval.
Chapter 13 is a reorganization bankruptcy; it gives homeowners the opportunity to reorganize debt into a more manageable payment. In addition, it may provide up to five years to catch up on missed mortgage payments without being charged any additional interest.
On September 30, 2020, Florida Governor, DeSantis announced he would not be extending the foreclosure moratorium and would allow it to expire on October 1, 2020.