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Florida residents are likely to be surprised to hear that nearly half of foreclosed homes in the nation are still occupied. In some housing markets, such as Miami, the number of homes that still have people living in them after being repossessed by a bank are as high as 60 percent. It is not uncommon for the eviction process after a foreclosure to take several months or even years.

The people living in these homes are previous homeowners and people who were renting the home, and this time spent in the home is free of a mortgage payment or rent. Renters may stay in homes for over a year after a house has been foreclosed upon because genuine rental agreements have to be followed by the bank that owns the property. Part of the reason that so many homes remain occupied is because of how long the foreclosure process takes to complete, and even residents who leave voluntarily can take two months to depart. In some cases, banks will offer people money to leave sooner.

Along with individuals dragging their heels when it comes time to leave a home, some banks actually benefit in some ways from people remaining in a house. In areas where markets are depressed, banks may be in no rush to evict previous homeowners, especially since many homes that are abandoned end up being vandalized or having squatters move in.

When someone is facing foreclosure, they may still have options that would enable them to keep their home, including bankruptcy and refinancing. A lawyer could help someone understand what can be done to save their home as well as ensure that a bank is following the law.

Source: CNN Money, “Half of nation’s foreclosed homes still occupied“, Les Christie, October 24, 2013