There are several steps in the foreclosure process, and this complexity is part of the challenge for homeowners who end up in foreclosure proceedings. They’re just trying to figure out if they can keep their homes, and all of a sudden, they’re being sued and are up to their ears in legal documents.
This can easily become an overwhelming experience, especially if you’ve rarely or never had to deal with the legal system before.
If you’re facing a foreclosure lawsuit, your first call should be to the foreclosure defense, debt defense, and bankruptcy attorneys at Loan Lawyers. These kinds of cases are all that we do at our firm, giving us an advantage over other firms with a broader focus. We’ve helped residents from South Florida and all across the state slash their debts and keep their homes. We want to help you do the same.
For your free initial consultation, call us today or visit our contact page.
Summons Versus Complaint Versus Lis Pendens: What’s the Difference?
In Florida, most foreclosure proceedings are handled by the courts, and a judge must sign off on any foreclosure sale. Before your lender can foreclose on your home, they will have to file a lawsuit against you.
There are three primary components to any foreclosure lawsuit: the complaint, the summons, and the notice of lis pendens. Let’s break these three elements down:
- Complaint – The complaint is the portion of the lawsuit wherein your lender will outline the basics of their claim against you. This will include the terms of the mortgage, a description of the property to be foreclosed upon (such as your home), when you went into default, how much of the loan is still due, the defendants in the lawsuit (such as you and your family), etc. Your lender will also outline the relief they’re seeking from the court, namely a judgment that allows them to foreclose on your home.
- Summons – When your lender files a foreclosure suit, a summons will go out to all of the defendants listed in the complaint. Typical defendants in a foreclosure suit include the homeowners, any other occupants of the home, any lienholders, etc. The summons will also state that the defendant will have to respond if they wish to contest the lawsuit and will outline how much time they have to respond. In Florida, the typical deadline to respond to a foreclosure suit is 20 days.
- Notice of lis pendens – Lis pendens is a Latin phrase for “suit pending.” When a lender files a foreclosure suit, the notice of lis pendens goes into the property records in whichever county the suit is filed. This notice is intended to let the public know that there’s an impending foreclosure suit involving the property mentioned in the notice. The notice of lis pendens is fairly basic and usually includes a description of the property and a statement that foreclosure proceedings have been initiated.
How to Respond to a Foreclosure Lawsuit: Your Options
At the most basic level, you have two ways you can respond to a foreclosure lawsuit:
- The first option is to not give any answer to the lawsuit. If you do this, you’re essentially giving up any right to contest the foreclosure, and your lender will likely obtain a default judgment against you. Once that happens, they can move to sell your home and quickly run you out of it. If you do not wish to fight the foreclosure, though, this can be a viable option.
- The other way you can respond to a foreclosure suit is to answer the charges listed in the complaint. This is how you contest the suit. Each allegation in the complaint will be an individually numbered paragraph, and if you fight the lawsuit, it’s critical to respond to each allegation in the order that they’re listed.
For each charge, state that you admit the allegation, deny it, or that there’s not enough evidence to admit or deny the allegation. If you admit an allegation, the courts will take that allegation as fact, but your lender must prove any allegation that you deny.
Your response to a foreclosure suit also gives you a chance to offer any defenses you may have to prevent the suit from going forward. For example, you might try to argue that the lender does not own your mortgage and therefore has no standing to bring the lawsuit. Or you might try to show how the lender has not followed proper foreclosure procedure, which can sometimes lead to a suit being dismissed.
When to Call a Foreclosure Defense Lawyer
While you are not required to hire an attorney if you’re sued for foreclosure, it’s always a good idea to hire one. A foreclosure defense lawyer will know all the ins and outs of Florida’s foreclosure statutes, so they can help you mount a stronger defense.
They can also help you gather the evidence you need to support your defense and make sure your reply is filed in a timely manner. If you take too long to file your reply, your lender will obtain a default judgment and will then be able to sell your home out from under you.
Get Help from a Foreclosure Defense Lawyer Now
There’s no overstating the importance of being able to keep your home. Your family deserves safety, security, and shelter, and a foreclosure lawsuit can rip that all away from you. While it’s tempting to believe that if you don’t answer a foreclosure suit, it will just go away, the reality is that doing so will only place your family in greater jeopardy.
Instead, the foreclosure defense lawyers at Loan Lawyers are ready to work tirelessly to keep your family in your home and reduce your debts. To get started on the road to recovery, call us at today or visit our contact page to schedule your free initial consultation.