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By: Roberto Vazquez

Understanding Zombie Titles: What Every Florida Homeowner Needs to Know

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A “zombie” title is the result of a bank not completing a foreclosure. A zombie title leaves a homeowner “in limbo” and may cause a number of financial difficulties. If you are dealing with a zombie title in central Florida, take your concerns to an Orlando real estate attorney.

If you are struggling with debts in this state – and almost everyone is – you may have trouble making a regular monthly mortgage payment, and you may be forced into foreclosure or bankruptcy. In this situation, you should know about zombie titles and the risks they may pose.

What is a zombie title, and what steps should you take if you are dealing with a zombie title? If you keep reading, you will learn the answers to these questions below.

What Is a Zombie Title?

When homeowners are notified of imminent foreclosure, the response of some homeowners is to move out. But if the bank subsequently dismisses the foreclosure, the lender does not take over the title, and the title remains in the homeowner’s name.

These titles are called zombie titles. Frequently, a homeowner is unaware that he or she still holds the title to the home. After initiating a foreclosure, a bank may choose not to continue pursuing the foreclosure.

Banks must inform homeowners when a foreclosure begins, but a bank isn’t obligated to notify a homeowner if it chooses not to continue pursuing a foreclosure. Even if you’ve left your home after foreclosure begins, you should stay apprised of the status of the title to the home.

Who Is Liable for the Property Taxes?

The owner of a zombie title home remains liable for the property taxes on the home. A failure to pay those property taxes may trigger a wage garnishment or some other legal action. If a home is abandoned, it could fall into disrepair, or squatters could take advantage of the property.

If local housing codes are violated as a result of abandoning a home, the homeowner may be held liable. Combined, all of these possibilities may trigger substantial fines and costs for homeowners who are already struggling financially.

These costs will affect a homeowner’s credit and could even force the homeowner into bankruptcy. Before that happens, schedule a consultation with an Orlando real estate attorney. If you’re like many homeowners dealing with zombie titles, we can help you.

What Other Problems Can Zombie Titles Cause?

When a bank begins but does not complete a foreclosure, the homeowner could take some serious financial hits – thousands of dollars in some cases – for property taxes, clean-up fees, personal injury liability, and fines from municipalities or homeowners’ associations.

When does a property owner learn about this? A homeowner may not realize that he or she owns a zombie title property until someone wants to be paid and a lawsuit is filed, or wage garnishment is imposed.

If you’re a central Florida homeowner and you’ve been notified of a foreclosure, call a real estate attorney as quickly as possible at 407-426-7222. We can help you deal with foreclosure and ensure that the title to your home does not become a zombie title.