“I’m still stunned as to why the attorney general’s office just gave up,” Silber said. “Their approach was all wrong. They could have looked at the firm as a debt collector.”
Palm Beach County ruling: Foreclosure law firm wrong to charge for paperwork served to ‘unknowns’
A foreclosure law firm violated state law by charging homeowners for summonses served on “John and Jane Doe” and other unknown parties who may have claims on the property, a Palm Beach County judge has ruled.
It is common practice for law firms to serve foreclosure paperwork on homeowners, as well as separate summonses for “unknown tenant,” or “unknown spouse,” even if the borrower is single and is not renting out the property. The borrower is usually billed for the additional summonses at about $45 each.
Law firms have said the practice is necessary because they need to sue every person or entity who may have a claim on the home in order to ensure clear title at the end of the suit.
But Circuit Judge Lucy Chernow Brown said in a ruling last week there is no legal basis or justification for issuing a summons made out to an unknown party, and that attempts to collect payment on those summonses violates the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act and the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.