For any person who isn’t an attorney, a lawsuit can be a terrifying proposition. Based on every television and commercial depiction you’ve seen of attorneys, judges, and juries, the courtroom may be the last place you would ever want to be. Creditors know this and take full advantage of this knowledge. They do so by filing lawsuits against borrowers, counting on a certain percentage of those borrowers to fail to respond. This results in default judgments against these borrowers.
If you have been served with a foreclosure lawsuit, you may be experiencing a natural culmination of fear and stress. Despite your fears, it is critical that you do not ignore these documents. Instead, your first step is to take a deep breath, then to call an experienced attorney for guidance. In the meantime, we suggest that you review the following information about foreclosures in New Jersey.
New Jersey is a “judicial foreclosure” state. This means that a mortgage lender cannot foreclose and repossess a home unless it has taken numerous legal steps and received authorization from a court. A lender can technically initiate a lawsuit as soon as you miss one payment; however, lenders will typically wait for four months of non-payment to do this.
It should not come as a surprise when a foreclosure lawsuit is filed. This is because homeowners know that they have missed mortgage payments. Further, lenders are required to provide a Notice of Intent to Foreclose prior to taking legal action. This notice must contain:
· the borrower’s debt obligation;
· details about how the borrower has defaulted;
· the amount of the outstanding obligation;
· how a borrower can avoid foreclosure proceedings;
· the borrower’s deadline to comply with the notice;
· notice of available financial assistance programs to help relieve the debt;
· the contact information of the creditor; and
· notice that the borrower will face a lawsuit if they fail to resolve the issue.
If the borrower ignores or fails to comply with the lenders demand, the lender has the right to file a lawsuit seeking foreclosure of the property. Referred to as a foreclosure complaint, this document must be filed in the county where the property is located and served upon anyone with a legal interest in the property.
This document will request that the court enter a judgment against the borrower so that the lender can foreclose on the property and initiate its sale. If a borrower fails to file an answer or files an inadequate answer, then the court may find that the borrower has defaulted. Even if the court finds a borrower in default, there is still one last opportunity to “cure” their default. Failure to do this will result in the entry of a final order, which divests the borrower of any opportunity to avoid foreclosure.
You Need an Attorney to Defend Your Legal Rights
If your mortgage lender is trying to foreclose on your home, contact us immediately. At Levitt & Slafkes, P.C., we have over 30 years of valuable experience in helping clients keep their homes. You have options and legal rights, and the last thing you want to do is ignore the situation. Let us assist you. Contact our office today at (973) 323-2953, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.