Foreclosure lawsuits in Lee County increased sharply year over year according to the Southwest Florida Real Estate Investment Association.

There were 570 foreclosure actions in November, up from 343 one year earlier. Last year’s numbers reflect a foreclosure freeze lending institutions self imposed upon themselves after shoddy paperwork surfaced as banks attempted to take back homes in record numbers.

Despite November’s surge, filings were still down from the previous month when lenders filed 643 foreclosure lawsuits in Lee County Courts.

Banks are also hesitant to take back homes during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced that they will suspend evictions of foreclosed single family and 2-4 unit properties from Dec. 19, 2011, through Jan. 2, 2012. While lenders will continue completing legal and administrative paperwork, no families will be thrown onto the street over the holidays.

“The holidays are meant for families to spend time together, especially if they’ve gone through the stress of financial challenges and foreclosure,” said Terry Edwards, Fannie Mae’s executive vice president of credit portfolio management. “No family should have to give up their home during this holiday season. Fannie Mae is committed to helping borrowers avoid foreclosure whenever possible and we encourage any homeowner who is having difficulty making their payment to reach out for help.”

While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac back roughly half the mortgages in the U.S., some lenders also promised to place a moratorium on evictions over the holidays. Bank of America and Wells Fargo, for example, told CNNMoney that they had no plans to evict troubled homeowners before 2012.

Beyond altruism, the mortgage industry hopes to avoid bad publicity at a time of year when news stories focus on charity and kindness.

The eviction moratoriums apply only to owner-occupied homes.