Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Florida

I am currrently renting a home from Marco Polo Realty in Ocala, Florida. I had a year contract and then once the contract finished if my family and I were still living in the house then we would pay month by month. It is going on two years now and I have paid my rent on time every month ($850.00) to the realtor. Just last week I found out that the owner of the house has not been paying the morgage. We have been served paper and the house is now being foreclosed. What options do I have?

Asked on 8/01/09, 11:20 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Peter Gonzalez Sanchez-Medina, Gonzalez, Quesada, Lage, Crespo, Gomez & MachadoLLP
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I recommend that you contact the attorney for the mortgage lender that filed the foreclosure action to learn the status of the case and how much time you have to vacate the property. A foreclosure lawsuit can take anywhere between 60 days to one (1) year or longer depending on whether the defendant has viable defenses and elects to fight the bank's attempt to foreclose. If the defendant takes no action in response to the lawsuit, the plaintiff can obtain a default final judgment of foreclosure after 20 days, then once the court enters a final judgment, the sale can be set in as early as 30 days from the date of the judgment.

If your landlord/homeowner is not paying the mortgage loan, then you may want to consider not paying monthly rent going forward and instead begin looking for another property to lease. Alternatively, you may want to work out a new deal with the lender's and landlord's cooperation. Perhaps you can pay a lower rent but direct your future monthly payments to the lender, with landlord's knowledge and consent, to partially cover the landlord's mortgage payments. Also, sometimes lenders will allow the tenant to remain in possession of the foreclosed property after the lender obtains a final judgment to be able to receive some cash flow until the lender puts the property on the market to sell it.

The current owner's problems may provide you with an opportunity. There are different ways to skin this cat, but regardless, you should start looking for other places in case you end up having to move out in the near future --- you do not want to be caught by surprise, so stay in communication with lender's counsel and monitor the foreclosure case closely to learn of the status of things. As the tenant in possession you should be a party to the lawsuit and should receive written notice of plaintiff's motions and upcoming hearings. The case file is a matter of public record and readily available at the courthouse in the event you wish to review it. Good luck.

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Answered on 8/02/09, 11:36 pm

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