Do I Really Need A Lawyer To Defend Against A Foreclosure?
When something is broken in your house, such as the plumbing, you might try and fix the problem yourself to save a little money. Oftentimes, however, that just makes things worse and you still end up having to call in an expert.
The same thing holds true if you are facing foreclosure against your home. Some people think that they can represent themselves in court and fight back against their mortgage lender or homeowner’s association. But self-represented homeowners are almost always at a severe disadvantage. They typically lack basic understanding of how the legal process works–and judges are not going to cut a self-represented homeowner any slack.
Appeals Court Chief Judge Explains Why Representing Yourself Is a Bad Idea
A recent decision from the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeals, Jenkins v. Silver Pines Association, Inc., provides a cautionary tale. A homeowner’s association sued one of is members to foreclose on a previously filed lien for unpaid monthly association fees. A Florida circuit court judge ruled in favor of the association and entered an order of judicial foreclosure. The Fifth District then affirmed that order without a formal written opinion.
One of the judges on the Fifth District panel, however, decided to file a concurring opinion explaining his thinking. Fifth District Chief Judge Brian D. Lambert said he wrote primarily for the benefit of the homeowner, who elected to represent himself without an attorney both before the trial court and the appellate court.
Lambert explained a number of mistakes made by the homeowner during the course of the litigation. First, he failed to “directly address the allegations made in the complaint” when he filed an answer to the foreclosure lawsuit. Second, he never filed any evidence or affidavit in response to the association’s motion for summary judgment. Third, when the trial court granted that motion, the homeowner did not ask for a rehearing or file an appeal before the legally mandated deadline. Finally, the homeowner waited until after the foreclosure sale to file his motion to “reverse,” yet again he offered no evidence that would support such a remedy.
“To be fair,” Lambert noted, the homeowner “is not a lawyer.” And like many non-lawyers who attempt to represent themselves in court, the homeowner failed to understand the role of an appellate court. The Fifth District was not a forum to “rehash” arguments previously rejected by the trial court. Rather, it was a place to address any purported errors of law made by the trial judge.
Speak with a Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorney Today
The lesson here should be obvious: Never attempt to fight a judicial foreclosure on your own. An experienced Sarasota foreclosure defense lawyer can review your case and advise you of your options. In many cases, a lawyer can help you avoid foreclosure in the first place by assisting you with a loan modification or a short sale. So rather than take the law into your own hands, contact the offices of Suncoast Civil Law today to schedule a confidential evaluation with a member of our team.