Foreclosure Action: A Legal Proceeding

A foreclosure action is a legal proceeding to terminate the mortgagor's interest in the property to either gain title or to force a sale in order to satisfy the unpaid debt secured by the property.

Like with other civil matters, the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure apply to the court process. The following is an overview of the foreclosure process. (Note: To read the Rule, click on the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure link above, then click on the chosen Rule number).

  • A foreclosure action is initiated by the filing of a complaint that alleges one or more defaults under the terms of the mortgage and promissory note.

  • The Rules of Civil Procedure provide the requirements for effecting service of process on a defendant in a case. Upon commencement of the action, summons is issued by the Clerk of the Circuit Court and County Comptroller and delivered for service. See Rule 1.070, Process.

  • When a party against whom affirmative relief is sought has failed to file or serve any paper in the action, the party seeking relief (lender) may have the Clerk and Comptroller enter a default against the party failing to serve or file an answer (mortgagee). See Rule 1.500, Defaults and Final Judgments.

  • The Rules likewise allow for the Claimant (lender) to move for a default if no response is filed by the Defendant (homeowner) within the required time.

  • Either the Claimant or the Defendant may move for Summary Judgment (see Rule 1.510, Summary Judgment)

  • A hearing is held on the party's motion for Summary Final Judgment.

  • If the Motion on behalf of the Claimant (lender) is granted, the Final Judgment is entered and a sale date for the real estate is set. If the motion on behalf of the Defendant (homeowner, mortgagee) is granted, the case is dismissed.   

Mediation Programs

All residential property owners (whether homestead or non-homestead properties) facing foreclosure are eligible to participate in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court's mediation program. Visit the Twelfth Judicial Circuit's Foreclosure Managed Mediation Program webpage for more information, and to read Administrative Order 2012-9.1 describing the mediation program currently being offered through the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court.

Additional Resources

Resources are available to help you understand foreclosure litigation from the homeowner's perspective. Additional resources may be available to you online, or at your local library. Below is a limited list of online resources.

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida - serving Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court Foreclosure Division Information - the Court's main portal for all information about foreclosure proceedings in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit

Gulfcoast Legal Services - a non-profit corporation providing free legal assistance to income eligible residents of the greater Tampa Bay area, with offices in Pinellas, Manatee, and Hillsborough counties

Sarasota Self-Help Center & Law Library - A reference library available for anyone to use, located at 2002 Ringling Boulevard, 1st Floor Lobby, Sarasota, Florida.