Foreclosures in Florida take a long time -- 935 days on average according to a 2014 report by RealtyTrac (an online marketplace for foreclosure properties and real estate data). If you’re a struggling homeowner facing foreclosure in Florida, you should prepare yourself for the process by learning as much as you can about the state’s foreclosure laws.
For starters, you should know that Florida foreclosures go through the court system. This means you’ll get a foreclosure summons and complaint. You should also be aware that you could be liable for a deficiency judgment after the foreclosure and that state law doesn't provide the right to reinstate the loan before the sale.
Below you’ll find a summary of some of the key aspects of Florida foreclosure law along with citations to the statutes so you can read the law yourself.
The citations to Florida’s foreclosure statutes are:
We’ve summarized important parts of Florida’s foreclosure laws below. You can find more detailed articles on various aspects of Florida foreclosure law in Nolo’s Florida Foreclosure Law Center.
Foreclosures in Florida are judicial, which means they go through the state court system. (Learn more about judicial foreclosures.)
In Florida, the foreclosing party files a lawsuit in court to start the foreclosure and gives notice of the lawsuit by serving the borrower with a summons and complaint. The borrower gets 20 days to file an answer to the complaint with the court. (Learn more about the difference between a foreclosure summons and complaint.)
If the court determines that the borrower has defaulted on the mortgage, it will enter a final judgment of foreclosure and mail a copy to the borrower. The foreclosure sale must take place 20 to 35 days after the judgment date unless the court order says otherwise. Fla. Stat. § 45.031.
The foreclosing party must publish a notice of the foreclosure sale in a newspaper once a week for two consecutive weeks, with the second publication at least five days before the sale. Fla. Stat. § 45.031.
(Florida also has an expedited foreclosure process. See Nolo’s article Florida Foreclosure Laws and Procedures for more details.)
Florida law provides certain protections against foreclosure to military service members. For example, if a military service member took out the mortgage before going on active duty (state or federal), the lender cannot foreclose during the time of military service (or within 30 days thereafter) unless a court issues an order beforehand allowing it. Fla. Stat. § 250.5205. (There is also a federal law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides protections to military service members who are facing foreclosure.)
“Reinstating” is when the borrower catches up on the defaulted mortgage's missed payments (plus fees and costs) in order to stop a foreclosure. (Learn more about reinstatement to avoid foreclosure.)
Florida law does not give the borrower the right to reinstate before the sale. However, most mortgages give the borrower a certain amount of time to reinstate the loan or the foreclosing party may allow reinstatement even if the mortgage doesn't provide the right.
In some states, the borrower can redeem (repurchase) your home within a certain period of time after the foreclosure.
In Florida, the borrower can redeem the home at any time before:
When the total mortgage debt exceeds the foreclosure sale price, the difference is called a “deficiency.” Some states allow the foreclosing party to seek a personal judgment (called a “deficiency judgment”) against the borrower for this amount, while other states prohibit deficiency judgments with what are called anti-deficiency laws.
In Florida, the foreclosing party may obtain a deficiency judgment:
The foreclosing party has one year to request the deficiency judgment. This time period begins the day after the court clerk issues a certificate of title to the buyer who purchased the home at the foreclosure sale. Fla. Stat. § 95-11. (If there are no objections to the sale, the clerk issues the certificate of title ten days after the certificate of sale.) (For a summary of the deficiency law in Florida, see Florida Laws on Post-Foreclosure Deficiency Judgments.)
In Florida, the foreclosing party will typically get a right to possession in the foreclosure judgment. After the clerk files the certificate of title, the foreclosing party can file a motion for a writ of possession. Once the court grants the motion, the clerk of court issues the writ and the sheriff executes it.