Liens and Zombie Foreclosures – A Complicated Pair

After the success achieved by attorneys Eric Hockman and Susan Trevarthen on behalf of the Town of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea enforcing more than $300,000 in code enforcement liens, the Daily Business Review ran a story on the case.   The lawsuit involved real estate investor James Ober, who invested in foreclosure property in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, which is subject to code enforcement liens due to a lender’s lack of maintenance.   Between the 2008 foreclosure judgment and ultimate sale to Ober, the home had become what is casually referred to as “zombie property.”  “Zombie” properties are properties that are all but dead, having been abandoned, unattended and left in a state of significant disrepair by lenders who have no legal obligation to maintain them. 

Although the article provided an overview of the case, the effect of the judgment was not entirely accurate. The Daily Business Review then provided Eric with the opportunity to run commentary in its “Board of Contributors” section that more carefully dissected the case, and shed light on several areas that had not been well explicated earlier. 

Eric explained that prior to the ruling in Ober vs. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, the validity of these liens was unclear. “No Florida cases addressed what happens to property interests that accrue during the time between a final judgment and sale,” he writes.   “Now everyone from prospective purchasers to foreclosing lenders understands that valid interests in property accruing after a judgment will have to be satisfied.”  Certainty concerning title is always desirable, if not necessary.

Eric, a senior associate in the litigation department was named a Rising Star by Florida Super Lawyers for the past three years.  Eric’s interesting background includes more than 11 years working in the aviation industry, as pilot, flight instructor, airframe & powerplant technician and maintenance manager. 

Susan Trevathen, member of Weiss Serota, handles land use, planning and zoning matters for governments and is a municipal attorney.



Categories: LitigationMunicipal Litigation
Tags: Eric P. HockmanSusan L. Trevarthen