A foreclosure summons is a notice to a homeowner that the judicial foreclosure process has begun. It's important for a homeowner to answer a foreclosure summons if he wants to contest the foreclosure. Not answering a foreclosure summons will not stop the foreclosure or make it go away.
What is a Foreclosure Summons?
Typically, the foreclosure process begins when a mortgage payment is at least 30 days past due. When this occurs, the mortgage lender sends a notice of foreclosure. It's important for a homeowner to get in touch with the lender at this point and attempt to work out a payment arrangement. If the notice goes unanswered, the lender will begin the judicial foreclosure process by filing for foreclosure in court. At this point, the homeowner is sent a foreclosure summons and complaint, which serves as official notice of foreclosure proceedings.
What Happens if You Don't Answer?
Homeowners must respond by answering the summons and complaint. Homeowners have a prescribed number of days to answer a foreclosure summons; the number of days varies from state to state. If the homeowner fails to answer within the prescribed number of days, it will likely result in a default judgment against the homeowner. This means the homeowner loses the case by default, and by extension, will likely lose his home.
How to Answer
In states without mediation programs, answer forms can be obtained online or by visiting the court in which the foreclosure complaint was filed. The summons and complaint usually include directions regarding how to obtain an answer form, how long the homeowner has to answer and where the answer must be filed.
Many states offer answer forms through their state court's websites. Certain states — Connecticut, for instance — offer mediation, which allows the foreclosed-upon homeowner to enter into a mediation program with the mortgage lender; this gives the homeowner a chance to work out a payment plan with the mortgage lender. In states that offer mediation, notice of a mediation program is typically included with the summons and complaint. In states with mediation programs, homeowners might have to file an appearance form with a foreclosure mediation certificate.
- ForeclosureLawFirms.com: Process of Foreclosing on a Mortgage
- Pine Tree Legal Assistance: What Happens in a Foreclosure Case?
- Connecticut Network for Legal Aid: Things to do if You Received Court Papers
- LegalMatch. "Foreclosure Alternatives." Accessed June 20, 2020.
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Foreclosure." Accessed June 20, 2020.
- NOLO. "Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs & COAs)." Accessed June 20, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "How Does Foreclosure Work?" Accessed June 21, 2020.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Are you at risk of foreclosure and losing your home?" Accessed June 21, 2020.
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Equity of Redemption." Accessed June 21, 2020.
- FindLaw. "Regaining Ownership After Foreclosure: Statutory Redemption." Accessed June 21, 2020.
Andrine Redsteer's writing on tribal gaming has been published in "The Guardian" and she continues to write about reservation economic development. Redsteer holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Washington, a Master of Arts in Native American studies from Montana State University and a Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law.