Land Trusts Office of the Attorney General March 13, 2014 New Clerk Academy
Land Trusts • The Fidelity Land Trust Company, LLC ("Fidelity") solicited Florida homeowners by representing that it could work with property owners to cancel their current mortgage. • Using Fidelity's program, the homeowner was required to deed his/her home to Fidelity which then would file a quiet title lawsuit that claimed the existing mortgage was not valid. • These lawsuits were often brought against the mortgage originator or record lender to cancel the mortgage for alleged improprieties, such as not recording the assignment of the mortgage or violations of pooling and servicing agreements.
Land Trusts • Often, the lender that was served was the last to file an assignment of mortgage but was no longer the holder of the note and mortgage, and consequently did not bother to respond to the lawsuit. Fidelity then would obtain a default judgment and ask the court to invalidate the mortgage. • These quiet title actions were held to be frivolous and without merit by decisions in Florida state and federal courts on a case by case basis. • Fidelity illegally charged homeowners thousands of dollars in upfront fees to enter their program.
Land Trusts • On December 17, 2013, Broward Circuit Judge Michael Gates issued Final Judgment against The Fidelity Land Trust Company, LLC in the lawsuit brought by the Attorney General for violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act ("FDUTPA"). • Judge Gates entered Final Judgment declaring, adjudging and ordering: • 1) Fidelity's acts and practices are unfair and/or deceptive in violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act;
Land Trusts • 2) all quitclaim deeds or warranty deeds executed and/or recorded subsequent to January 1, 2010 in the State of Florida transferring title to The Fidelity Land Trust Company, LLC as grantee in fee simple or as trustee or in other fiduciary capacity are rescinded and deemed null and void ab initio; and • 3) a permanent injunction barring Fidelity from rendering services that claim to cancel previously recorded mortgages.
Land Trusts • The Final Judgment entered by Judge Gates on December 17, 2013 is significant because of the effect on title to real estate that was deeded to Fidelity. • Titles to homeowners' residences that were deeded to Fidelity may be clouded. • The Final Judgment establishes that deeds to Fidelity were void ab initio and thus have no legal force or effect. • A copy of the Final Judgment is currently being recorded in all 67 County Clerk's Offices in the State of Florida.
Land Trusts • Suits are in various stages of litigation • Whitestone Capital Trust • Become the Bank LLC • Cambridge Land Trust Company LLC • Hartford Land Trust Company LLC