New Case Polarizes Foreclosure Statute of Limitations in Florida

Foreclosure Statute of Limitations in Florida


foreclosure statute of limitations in FloridaIn an earlier bankruptcy and foreclosure blog, we discussed a case, US Bank v. Bartram,  that was troubling for homeowners.  The case, which was decided by Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal, allowed a lender’s second foreclosure action against the same homeowner to move forward despite the homeowner’s argument that the statute of limitations (i.e. time limit for filing suit) had passed because the lender invoked the acceleration clause in the first action thereby starting the running of the clock.

You may recall that the court in Bartram requested that the Florida Supreme Court provide clarification on the foreclosure statute of limitations in Florida  (it hasn’t yet), leaving open the possibility of a more favorable outcome for homeowners in the future.  More reason for optimism is the fact that another Florida court in Deutsche Bank v. Beauvais recently decided the foreclosure statute of limitations in Florida issue in favor of the homeowner
Here’s the Beauvais timeline:

  • February 2006 – $1.4 million note and accompanying mortgage are signed on the Miami Beach Condominium now at issue
  • September 2006 – Beauvais (the homeowner) defaults on his payments
  • January 2007 – Mortgage loan servicer files a foreclosure lawsuit against Beauvais and in the Complaint states that it was electing to accelerate the payment on the balance due on the note.
  • December 2010 – Foreclosure case is dismissed by the court without prejudice (meaning the lawsuit could be refilled) because the servicer didn’t show up at a mandatory court conference
  • 2011 – The condominium association files a foreclosure action and receives a judgment in its favor subject only to the mortgage
  • December 2012 – Deutsche Bank (DB), the new owner of the note, files a foreclosure action against Beauvais.  This is the case at hand.

The condominium association sought to have judgment entered against DB in the 2012 action on the ground that the statute of limitations had run – in other words, that the time limited had passed for filing suit.  The trial court agreed with the association and DB appealed.  The 3rd District Court of Appeal also agreed with the condominium association and trial court reasoning that January 2007 lawsuit in which the servicer accelerated the debt started the five year statute of limitations period.  The court emphasized that its ruling was heavily dependent on the fact that the dismissal was without prejudice and that no additional action to decelerate was undertaken, leaving open a different outcome under different facts.
If the two cases, Beauvais and Bartram seem to send seem to send mixed messages about the foreclosure statute of limitations in Florida, that’s because they do.  They are in conflict with one another.  This conflict makes it even more likely that the Florida Supreme Court will decide the issue.  In the meantime, cases in the the 3rd and 5th District Courts of Appeal may come out differently even where the facts are very similar.  Until, the Florida Supreme Court makes a decision, the other District Courts of Appeal, like the 1st DCA which covers Duval county, will be left to decide whether they will fall on the side of Bartram or Beauvais.
If you have questions about how the foreclosure statute of limitations in Florida or what defenses are available to you in a foreclosure action, contact the Jacksonville foreclosure attorneys at Adam Law Group today.