Unfortunately for many homeowners in the Sunshine State, foreclosures are back; and South Florida is at the epicenter. The Miami Herald recently reported that the number of foreclosure starts in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area jumped 29 percent in July.
There’s even more bad news for some South Floridians struggling to maintain their homes—banks can take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners desperate to save what is often their largest investment. In order to keep their homes, property owners frequently try to negotiate loan modifications or an outright dismissal from their lender.
However, even after a foreclosure case is dismissed, some banks will roll attorneys’ fees onto the existing mortgage balances. As I wrote in an earlier post, such improper fees are not justified. Under Florida law, a plaintiff has to win a lawsuit before a court orders payment for attorneys’ fees and costs. The practice is a violation of Florida’s Consumer Collection Practices Act because banks are knowingly enforcing a debt that is not legitimate, as revealed by a recent investigation by Miami’s NBC 6 news team.
Wrongfully assessing attorneys’ fees and the costs associated with wrongful prosecution of a complaint is a practice designed to exploit vulnerable homeowners. Often, this strategy is tied into complicated reverse mortgage plans where elderly mortgage holders are duped into paying more than they are legally required.
Everyone has financial difficulties from time to time, and no one deserves such insult to injury. These are individuals just trying to run their lives, support their families, and keep their homes—they should not also have to battle such shady efforts from unscrupulous lenders.
If you feel that you have been a victim of predatory practices by a lender or their servicer, please contact Jon Herskowitz at Baron & Herskowitz for a free and confidential legal consultation.