Florida Residential Foreclosure
First Zombie Title-Now Vampires
We’ve previously written about the dangers of so-called “Zombie Title” and their impact on innocent borrowers in foreclosure proceedings. Now there is a new trend causing concern in the mortgage foreclosure process: Vampire Properties.
In the Florida residential foreclosure context, Vampire Properties are Bank-owned homes still occupied by their prior owners. These homes largely serve as overlooked inventory yet to enter the for-sale market as banks fear a flood of foreclosures will create a housing surplus and price declines.
These so-called “vampires” exist for several reasons. Sometimes, homeowners are staying in their homes as they attempt to dispute what they consider to be an improper foreclosure, either through an appeal or otherwise. In other cases, homeowners are simply choosing to remain in the home after their foreclosure is processed because they have not been evicted. In certain circumstances, the Banks may ultimately benefit from a previous owner remaining in the home because the borrowers will often maintain the property and keep it from being a target for vandalism.
However, as home prices rise and the number of sales climb, the Bank’s incentive to list the properties increases. The new motivation to clear inventory presents several risks to homeowners who may be reluctant to leave their homes after a foreclosure. It is important to note that homeowners who choose to stay in the home after a foreclosure expose themselves to liability for any incidental damage as well as potential civil and criminal trespassing charges. Homeowners can mitigate their risk by maintaining the property but, ultimately, the best course of action is to vacate the home once title is transferred.
The reality is that while remaining in the home or “squatting”, will sometimes be overlooked by the bank, consumers need to be aware of the risks associated with it. If you seek additional information on a similar situation, please give us a call today. Better yet, to prevent this unfortunate situation from happening to you, promptly seek legal counsel once you are served with a foreclosure complaint or lis pendens.
This article was written authored by Andrew Hoek and James Jacob
James Jacob is a Law Clerk in the Tampa Office of DeWitt Law Firm, P.A. Mr. Jacob earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and is currently a third-year law student at Stetson University, College of Law, located in St. Petersburg, Florida. Mr. Jacob can be reached at Jake@dewittlaw.com