Is There a Statute of Limitations on Debt in Florida?


When a person is drowning in debt, they’ll do just about anything to get the creditors to stop calling. They may even begin to imagine the worst-case scenario – that the creditors will sue them. The good news is, though, that those facing debt may just have to wait. While simply giving the debt enough time won’t erase the debt completely, it will bar the creditors from pursuing a lawsuit. There is a statute of limitations on debt in Florida, but there are a few things borrowers will need to know before they begin counting on it.

Florida’s Statute of Limitations on Debt

In Florida, the statute of limitations on debt is typically five years. This means that once the five-year timeline has expired, creditors can no longer file a lawsuit against the borrower in order to try and recover the debt. This is only true of debts that include a written agreement, though. When an oral agreement was made pertaining to the debt, the statute of limitations is reduced to four years.

This is the case for most debts in Florida. However, there are certain types of debts that have different statute of limitations than these. These, and the relevant statutes of limitations are:

  • Debts incurred as a result of injuries or property damage: four years
  • Tax liens due to unpaid property taxes: up to 20 years
  • Court costs and fines: no statute of limitations
  • Debts incurred from unpaid alimony: no statute of limitations
  • Fraud: 12 years

Unfortunately, in some cases, a statute of limitations on debt is tolled. It’s just as important that borrowers understand this, so they know what could keep the statute of limitations on their debt from expiring when it otherwise would have.

When Statutes of Limitations Are Tolled

There are some instances in which a statute of limitations on a debt is tolled. One of these is when the debtor takes measures to avoid the creditor completely. This does not necessarily refer to ignoring phone calls, though. It does refer to any measures taken in order to keep the creditor from contacting the borrower at all. For example, if a borrower knows that the statute of limitations expires in six months and they move to another state in order to avoid the creditor, this could toll the statute of limitations to six months after the borrower moves back to Florida.

In addition, in the case that a borrower acknowledges the debt, this could also toll the statute of limitations. For example, if a creditor phoned a borrower and the borrower answered and admitted that they knew about the debt, this could extend the statute of limitations. Likewise, any time a borrower makes a partial payment on their debt, this could also toll the statute of limitations. Tolling a statute of limitations only applies, though, when the debt agreement is in writing.

This doesn’t mean that borrowers should try and avoid paying their debts so that they can wait out the statute of limitations; it only means that they should be aware of instances that toll the statute and which could affect their foreclosure defense.

Verifying the Statute of Limitations

While trying to file a lawsuit against a borrower after the statute of limitations has expired is not a prohibited practice, it is likely to get thrown out of court. The courts. however, don’t keep information tracking different debts and their statutes of limitations. Verifying that the statute of limitations has run out on a debt then falls to the borrower.

In order to do this, the borrower must gather as much information as possible pertaining to their debt. This could include bank statements, receipts, and any documents created when the loan was first obtained. These will show when the loan was granted, and the last time the debtor made a payment or acknowledged the debt.

When a borrower can show that the statute of limitations has expired on their debt, it’s possible to use this as a debt defense in court. The court will simply throw the case out, and the borrower will not have to go through litigation in order for the creditor to recover the debt.

Paying Debts after the Statute of Limitations Expires

Once the statute of limitations expires, it only bars a creditor from filing a lawsuit against a borrower. It does not erase the debt, and that’s very important for borrowers to understand. An expired statute of limitations may not stop the creditors from calling, although they must still do so in accordance with the law. For example, creditors still cannot contact an employer or call borrowers in the middle of the night.

More importantly, an old debt will still remain on a credit report, which can keep people from obtaining new loans, and possibly even gaining certain types of employment. However, there are laws pertaining to how long a debt can appear on these credit reports, as well. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), this time limit is seven years for the majority of debts.

A Florida Debt Defense Lawyer Can Help Those Suffering from Debt

Arguing that the statute of limitations has run out on a certain debt can provide a valid debt defense in cases where a creditor has filed a lawsuit against a borrower to recover the debt. However, this isn’t the only defense available. A Fort Lauderdale debt defense lawyer can provide the necessary help to anyone who has received documents from a creditor stating they are being taken to court.

If you’re suffering from severe debt and a creditor has threatened to, or has already taken steps to, file a lawsuit, contact the Loan Lawyers at (954) 523-HELP (4357). We know the many different defenses available for these types of lawsuits, and we know how to help you with yours. We’ll review your case, advise on how Florida law applies to it, and create a solid defense to give you the best chance of success in court. We also offer free consultations, so call us today and we’ll begin discussing your case.

Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers with their debt problems, we have saved over 2,000 homes from foreclosure, eliminated more than $100,000,000 in mortgage principal and consumer debt, and have recovered over $10,000,000 on behalf of our clients due to bank, loan servicer, and debt collector violations. Contact us for a free consultation and find out more about our money back guarantee on credit card debt buyer lawsuits, and how we may be able to help you.