How to Foreclose on Mortgaged Land in Different Counties
Reading Time: 3 minutes
In Florida, foreclosure actions must be brought in the county where the land is located. This is typically referred to as the “local action rule.” However, lenders often wonder where they should file the foreclosure action if the loan is secured by mortgaged land situated in different counties. Luckily, the Florida legislature answered this question by creating Section 702.04 of the Florida Statutes, which created an exception to the local action rule for mortgaged land in different counties.
When Does The Exception to The Local Action Rule Apply?
Florida courts have found that the exception to the local action rule found in Section 702.04 applies to “both contiguous and non-contiguous real properties.” Penton v. Intercredit Bank, N.A., 943 So. 2d 863, 864 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006). This means that the exception applies not just to mortgaged land that extends into multiple counties, but also to non-adjoining mortgaged land in different counties.
For example, in Frym v. Flagship Cmty Bank, 96 So. 3d 452 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012), the loan was secured by two mortgages: one in Pinellas County and the other in Hillsborough County. The court found that the lender properly filed a foreclosure action on both mortgages in just Pinellas County because both mortgages jointly constituted the collateral for a single loan.
Therefore, if the loan is secured by more than one mortgage, and each mortgage encumbers land in different counties, Section 702.04 allows the lender to bring a single foreclosure action on all mortgages in just one county.
Where is The Foreclosure Lawsuit Filed?
If mortgaged land is part of two or more counties, the foreclosing lender can file the foreclosure lawsuit in any one of those counties. For example, if the mortgage includes land in both St Johns County and Duval County, the foreclosing lender can file the foreclosure lawsuit in either county. Fla. Stat. § 702.04.
Where is the Notice of Sale Published?
Regardless of the county the lender chooses to file the foreclosure action, notice of the foreclosure sale must be published in every county where the land is located. Fla. Stat. § 702.04.
What Happens After Final Disposition of The Foreclosure Lawsuit?
After final disposition of the foreclosure lawsuit, the clerk of the court will prepare and send a certified copy of the decree of foreclosure, sale, and confirmation of sale to the clerk of the circuit court of every county where the mortgaged land is located. The recipient clerks will record the decrees in the foreign judgment book. The copies of the decrees and the record will be taxed as costs in the foreclosure action. Fla. Stat. § 702.04.
In the event mortgaged land is in different counties, Section 702.04 allows lenders to file a single foreclosure lawsuit in only one county. However, lenders will still have to have the foreclosure sale published in each of the counties the mortgaged land is located.