Problems with Foreclosure Notices Loom as Next Flaw in Process

Improperly served foreclosure notices may be the mortgage industry’s next roadblock to repossessing homes.

The Florida attorney general’s office is investigating two of the state’s largest companies that serve court summonses on homeowners, while at the same time judges are throwing out rulings based on faulty deliveries.

This month, appeals courts in Miami and Palm Beach County sided with homeowners in foreclosures where judges agreed their summonses were not appropriately served.

In the Miami case, the homeowner said she was recovering at her mother’s home after surgery when the person serving her the summons swore he personally handed it to her at her residence.

But the server’s own notes on the file showed he left the documents at the door after seeing curtains move and assuming someone was home. The homeowner later said she had no knowledge of the foreclosure until a final judgment was entered against her.

“Curtains may move because of the wind or curious cats, and not just because some prospective defendant is attempting to avoid service,” the appeals decision noted.

Once entrusted only to sheriff’s deputies, summonses may now legally be handled by “special process servers” certified by the court. With the crush of foreclosures statewide, process service has become big business.

Foreclosure Stories, The Players