For Jason Vanslette, a lawyer who specializes in foreclosure litigation, everything came to a screeching halt on March 27, 2020. President Donald Trump had just signed the CARES Act into law, and with it, a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions had locked into place.
Vanslette, a partner at Kelley Kronenberg in Fort Lauderdale, said a veritable mountain of foreclosure litigation has piled up on his desk, unable to be processed by the Florida courts. And each and every one of those cases is pre-COVID – with underwater homeowners waiting it out.
“The courts, especially in Florida, don’t particularly care for cases just sitting,” said Vanslette. “Either you move them or you dismiss them, because they have obligations to ensure that their dockets are moving.”
For many borrowers, the waiting game is going to be their best bet. If a foreclosure is contested, Vanslette said it can take anywhere from one to two years for the loan to make its way through the legal system due to its likelihood of ending up in a nonjury trial. If it goes uncontested, the process is closer to 90 to 120 days.
“Especially now that the dockets have been delayed and the availability of judges being so strict, we’re seeing the earliest trial dates not until 2022, and that’s for the cases that are ongoing, there’s no telling the backlog,” Vanslette said.