Facing a foreclosure summons and complaint can be a frightening and emotionally distressing experience.

As a New York homeowner, knowing your rights and the proper steps to take is essential. The most important thing is not to panic. While the situation is undoubtedly serious, foreclosure proceedings often take months. So you have time to explore your options with the help of an attorney.

If you haven’t read our previous blog post yet, you can find it here.

What should you do when you’ve just been served with a summons and complaint?

If you are served with a summons and complaint, you must not ignore it. In New York State, you must respond within 20-30 days, depending on how the summons and complaint was served. Failing to do so may result in a default judgment against you. A default judgment, sometimes called a judgment by default, is a decision made by a judge or court that supports the plaintiff when the defendant in a legal case does not reply to a court summons or does not show up in court.

If a homeowner defaults, it could accelerate the foreclosure process.

Consult with an experienced foreclosure attorney

Consulting an attorney specializing in foreclosure defense as soon as possible is important to discuss the next steps. They can review your case, help determine if there are any errors or violations in the foreclosure proceedings, and discuss your legal options for responding to the summons.

Your attorney will review your case and may file an answer to the summons, denying some or all of the allegations in the complaint and raising any defenses you may have. If there are any issues with how the foreclosure is handled, they can also file a motion to dismiss. A motion to dismiss in a foreclosure action where the defendant files a motion asserting the plaintiff (the lender or mortgage holder) does not have a valid legal basis for pursuing the foreclosure or that there are procedural defects in the case that warrant its dismissal.

Stay in Your House

There is often a misconception that once you have been served with a summons and complaint, you should leave your house. Your opportunity to qualify for potential retention assistance is better if you remain in your house and remain your primary residence. At a time when the lender will be reviewing your financials, you do not want any added expenses if you leave to rent a place. It will affect your finances by increasing your expenses and potentially disqualifying you for a retention option. Furthermore, if the lender assumes the house is abandoned, they will board it up to minimize the potential damage from squatters or elements.

Beware of Scams

After filing a summons and complaint, out-of-state companies often claim expertise and promise results with modifications to resolve the foreclosure. It is crucial to remain vigilant to avoid scams. To protect yourself, be cautious of the following warning signs:

  • Upfront payment demands: Exercise caution if they insist on payment before providing a modification. While licensed attorneys can request upfront fees, this is a red flag for others.
  • Guarantees of a loan modification: Be wary of companies or individuals who guarantee a modification. The approval for a modification rests with the mortgage lender servicing your loan; no one can guarantee its success.

In addition, these entities are legally unable to represent you in court. It is best to consult a reputable foreclosure defense attorney, such as our firm, to have an attorney review your circumstances.

Attempt to Save Payments

While you may have experienced a financial hardship that has caused you to be late, do your best to save payments or partial payments. While a lender will likely not accept the payments as you are in default, they may require a down payment for a loss mitigation option. Having readily available funds may show your good faith in negotiating a settlement.

A summons and complaint begins the foreclosure process, it is not the end.

With the help of an experienced foreclosure defense attorney, you have the opportunity to defend your case and negotiate with your lender. Staying in your home may still be possible through a loss mitigation solution. Do not lose hope – know your rights and fight for your home.

Stay Informed

We understand that navigating the foreclosure process can be overwhelming. To stay up-to-date with the latest information, changes in foreclosure laws, and helpful tips for homeowners

Stay tuned for more blogs on foreclosure, the foreclosure process specific to New York state.

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