Don't Let the Lenders Attorney Get a Default against you.
READ THE SUMMONS: it generally says you only have 20 days to respond to the complaint. If you do nothing the foreclosure attorney representing your mortgage holder will file a motion for a default after 20 days.
WHAT DOES A DEFAULT MEAN? A default prevents you from hiring a Florida Foreclosure Defense attorney who may be able to raise defenses that are available to you. Once a default is entered, your rights are cut off unless you can prove "excusable neglect" coupled with a "meritorious defense". In layman terms this means that it is very very difficult to set aside a default.
IF THE 20 DAY PERIOD IS ALMOST UP, and you have not seen a Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorney, you should write a letter to the court clerk, reference the case information on the summons, and ask for more time to hire an attorney, and mail a copy to the mortgage holders attorney. By filing (mailing it to the court) this letter they cannot get a default against you without a court hearing.
Consult a Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorney
I always provide free consultations to people facing foreclosure. Fortunately the Florida Bar has set up a program where there are other attorneys now willing to do the same thing. There are even legal aid societies or attorney who have volunteered to handle several cases a year for free. Generally 10% of the foreclosure defense cases I handle are pro bono where I donate my services. If you can afford to pay me a fee I will charge you, however, if when I meet people who are disabled and cannot work or elderly and surviving on social security, my heart goes out to them and I help them. My concept of elderly is changing though since it is now 40 years since I graduated law school and was sworn in as a Florida attorney in 1969. If you do not consult a lawyer you will assume you have no rights when in fact your lender may have done something that violated your rights which can save your home.
What happens if your retain an attorney.
A continuing default on a mortgage gives the lender a right to seek the judicial sale of the borrowers residence by bringing a foreclosure action under State Statutes. In almost all instances the borrower is in the wrong not because they wanted to stop paying on the mortgage but simply because events in life resulted in a financial inability to pay on their mortgage. Although the borrower has defaulted and is in the "wrong" that does not mean the homeowner has to rollover and abandon their home or just stay there and wait for the inevitable.
In most cases a foreclosure defense will not avoid liability you may have to repay your mortgage, however generally by asserting your rights and forcing your lender to prove their case, this results in property owners staying in their homes for an extended period of time.
Should everyone fight the foreclosure against their home?
No. Fighting a foreclosure costs money! As a result of an Attorney representing you , the attorney representing the mortgage holder will bill the mortgage holder additional fees and costs which you as a homeowner will ultimately be responsible for if a judgment is entered in favor of the mortgage holder, or if the homeowner subsequently reinstates or payoffs the mortgage or files a chapter 13 bankruptcy. You must determine if you are better off paying these fees, if it allows you to keep your home or walk away with most of your equity you have in your home.
Beware Non Lawyer Foreclosure Assistance Programs and "trustees"
Often they will advertise they are non-profit corporations that help people like you everyday. The reason they are non profit is because they don't distribute profits to their stockholders. However, they set up these companies and pay the "income" out to themselves in the form of salaries. The corporation is a non profit company but they make all the money when you pay them a fee to call your lender and "try" and fix your problem. If they make one call, they have not lied to you and its not fraud. Its just a very expensive phone call made in your behalf.
The truth is that nobody can waive a magic wand and solve your problem. You need to not panic and not look for quick fix programs. Remember the old adage "Buyer Beware". Unfortunately when facing foreclosure the vultures start to circle around you and your home. You need to seek out professional advice from a foreclosure defense attorney, a good realtor, or perhaps your CPA.
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