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Competing Liens

Mortgage foreclosure actions are equitable in nature. See § 702.01, Fla. Stat. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass'n v. Farhood, 153 So. 3d 955, 958 (Fla. 1st DCA. 2014). However, the “long-enduring principle that equity will not act when there is a full, adequate, and complete remedy at law applies to mortgage foreclosure actions and continues in effect today.” Wildwood Crate & Ice Co. v. Citizens Bank of Inverness, 98 Fla. 186, 192, 123 So. 699, 701 (1929); see also Jackson v. Computer Science Raytheon, 36 So.3d 754, 756 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010) (recitation of rule); See also Creamer v. Aultman, 445 So. 2d 382, 385 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984) (holding that a court in its discretion may refuse to grant a prayer for foreclosure for equitable reasons).

When the rule governing priority of lien interests is at issue by way of a Mortgage versus an Association lien, then one must adhere to the old adage of “first in time is first in right.” Walter E. Heller & Co. Southeast, Inc. v. Williams, 450 So.2d 521, 532 (Fla. 3d DCA 1984), review denied, 462 So.2d 1108 (Fla. 1985). For example, if a party acquires a property at an association foreclosure sale, meaning that the sale flowed from a foreclosure judgment being entered upon a filed and recorded association’s lien then that lien may in fact take priority over a mortgage where the association lien is first in time because it relates back to the recording date of the declaration of covenants and not merely upon when the lis pendens was filed. See Bessemer v. Gersten, 381 So.2d 1344 (Fla. 1980). If the Declaration existed prior to the Mortgage upon which the Plaintiff is seeking to foreclose, then the Bank’s mortgage interest may, depending on the circumstances be inferior to all others. See Composite Exhibit “A.” See also Ass'n of Poinciana Villages v. Avatar Properties, Inc., 724 So. 2d 585 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998); Fed. Nat. Mortgage Ass'n v. McKesson, 639 So. 2d 78 (Fla. 4th DCA 1994) approved sub nom. Holly Lake Ass'n v. Fed. Nat. Mortgage Ass'n, 660 So. 2d 266 (Fla. 1995); Holly Lake Ass'n v. Fed. Nat. Mortgage Ass'n, 660 So. 2d 266 (Fla. 1995). A Bank plaintiff’s subsequent and inferior right to pursue whatever interests once may have existed in a subject property would then be extinguished. See New York Life Ins. & Annuity Corp. V. Hammocks Community Ass’n Inc., 622 So. 2d 13699 (Fla. 3d DCA 1993).

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