Statutory Right of Redemption Must Be Strictly Construed
In Palm-Aire Vill. Private Homes Townhouse Park Bd., Inc. v. Epstein, No. COSO14-011561 (Fla. Cir. Ct. May 18, 2015), the Court was faced with the issue of whether the Homeowner successfully exercised his right of redemption pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 45.0315 even though a third-party purchaser at a foreclosure auction had tendered funds just before the Defendant did so. In this case, the property was sold at foreclosure auction on March 27, 2015 to a third-party purchaser. Three days later, the third-party purchaser tendered funds to the Clerk of Court at 9:39 a.m., but the Clerk refused to issue the certificate of sale until the funds cleared. Later that same day, and prior to the issuance of the certificate of sale, the Homeowner tendered funds to the Clerk in an amount sufficient to redeem the property. The third-party purchaser contended that it was entitled to the property rather than the Homeowner and that the Clerk failed to promptly issue a certificate of sale as required by Fla. Stat. § 45.031(4). Alternatively, the third-party purchaser contended that the Homeowner failed to seek relief diligently by waiting beyond the 50 days between the entry of final judgment and the foreclosure sale to take action to prevent the sale. Homeowner argued that the rights of redemption provided in Fla. Stat. § 45.0315 allowed a mortgagor the right to cure the indebtedness "at any time before the later of the filing of the certificate of sale by the clerk of the court or the time specified in the judgment, order, or decree of foreclosure." The appellate court ruled in favor of the Homeowner and held that the redemption statute must be interpreted strictly and that the right to redeem had not been foreclosed upon until the issuance of the certificate of sale. The Court recognized that even though the Clerk was not prompt in issuing the certificate of sale, there is ambiguity in the meaning of "promptly" which precluded the court from construing that term to override the equitable right of redemption. In addition, the Court rejected the third-party purchaser's contention that Homeowner had delayed seeking his relief, noting that the clerk's delay in issuing the certificate of sale after payment could not be attributed to the Homeowner. While it is uncommon for defendants to come up with the necessary funds to exercise their right of redemption, in the event that they do, Florida courts will strictly construe the applicable statute so that the right of redemption will remain available until the actual issuance of the certificate of sale by the Clerk.