Filing Requirements for Homestead Foreclosure Actions
The Court states that "homestead property is real property for which a homestead exemption for real property taxation is shown in the records of the Property Appraiser of Palm Beach County...twenty days before the action is filed." You may check their website to determine the status of your homestead exemption. If an action has been filed against your homestead property, the lender is required to provide you with a number of Court forms. One of these forms is a "Notice to Homeowner," which outlines some rights and resources available to homeowners, including numbers of housing counseling and legal aid organizations. The Notice also lists some options which may be available to help save your home, which include reinstatement, forbearance, repayment plan, loan modification, short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. The lender must also provide you with the contact information for the lender's loss mitigation representative, foreclosure questionnaire and financial statement forms.
The Court provides that either party may request mediation at any time. If the Court orders mediation, the case cannot proceed to final judgment until the mediator provides a report, unless good cause is shown. The lender must complete a "Certification of Settlement Authority," which requires the lender to state that the representative appearing at the mediation will have full settlement authority.
Cancellation of Foreclosure Sales
It is important to note that foreclosure sales in this Court may only be cancelled by Court order. There is a preset form motion and proposed order which a party must submit to the Court to request a cancellation of sale.
Filing of Bankruptcy During Foreclosure Proceeding
If a party files a petition for bankruptcy after being named as a defendant to a foreclosure action, he or she must file with the Court clerk either 1) a copy of the Bankruptcy Petition or 2) a Notice or Suggestion of Bankruptcy.
Scheduling of Hearings and Distribution of Court Papers
If litigants are pro se (meaning they represent themselves without an attorney), they must receive paper copies of court filings, unless they provide the Court with an email address for receipt of Court papers. All motions and notices of hearing for uniform motion calendar (hearings of five minutes or less) and specially-set hearings must be emailed to the Court. However, pro se parties may mail papers to the Court. If you plan to introduce evidence at a hearing, you must inform the Court beforehand.
Writs of Possession
When a court issues a writ of possession in foreclosure, it is usually after the court has entered summary judgment in favor of the lender. The writ of possession generally means that the occupants will be required to vacate the premises, as the property will be sold at auction. However, the Court has adopted provisions of the Federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (the "Act"). Accordingly, any writ of possession issued after 8/3/09 must contain a certification by the lender's attorney stating that 1) there are no tenants on the property or 2) if there are tenants on the property, they have been provided with notice of their rights as dictated by the Act, and 3) that the writ of possession does not violate the tenants' rights to occupy the premises under the Act.
Additional resources provided by the author
Palm Beach County has other local rules governing foreclosures. Furthermore, each Court Judge may have his or her own specific procedures. You may research further information about the Court Judges at the Judicial Information link below.