Stop paying your mortgage and you will undoubtedly face foreclosure -- and perhaps the local sheriff as well if you don't leave the property on your own. Timelines vary from state to state as to how long you can live in your home without paying the mortgage. In some cases, you can delay foreclosure proceedings in court, giving you more time to get back on your feet or find a new place to live.
How long you can remain in your home without paying the mortgage depends on the lender and the laws in the state in which you reside. Eviction can take place in as little as a few months or as long as a year.
Defaulting on Your Loan
In most cases, you will need to miss three to five mortgage payments before your lender can begin foreclosure proceedings. Once the lender decides to foreclose, you will typically be given 30 days notice prior to the action being filed. At this point you might be able to delay by another month or two by speaking with a HUD-approved housing counselor and setting up a workout agreement with your lender. This means that you could live in your home without paying the mortgage for five to seven months before foreclosure proceedings even begin.
Understanding Foreclosure Types
Once the lender initiates the foreclosure, the clock is ticking. There are two types of foreclosure. Judicial foreclosure take place within the court system and require that your borrower initiate a complaint against you. Non-judicial foreclosures take place outside of the court and commence when the lender issues a notice of default.
Non-judicial foreclosure move more quickly than judicial foreclosures. The amount of time between the beginning of the foreclosure and the home auction vary widely from state to state. During this time you can typically stay in your home without paying the mortgage anywhere from two months to up to a year.
Delaying the Inevitable
Whether you face a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure, there are a few delay tactics you can employ to extend the amount of time you live in your home. In the case of a judicial foreclosure you must respond to the complaint filed against you or the foreclosure will be granted automatically.
You might consider hiring a foreclosure attorney that will file actions on your behalf, such as challenging the lender's right to foreclose, that extend the process and keep you in your home longer. For all foreclosures, filing for government assistance such as the Home Affordable Modification program will buy you time while your application is being considered. Another option is to file for bankruptcy, which can delay the foreclosure by 45 days to 75 days.
Waiting for Eviction
Once you have stalled as long as you can, eventually an auction or sheriff's sale will take place where someone will buy your house or the bank will repossess it. The amount of time you can stay in your home after the sale ranges from five to 30 days depending on which state you live in.
Once this period expires, it is up to the new owner to file an eviction lawsuit against you to force you to leave. If you contest it in court, the process can be delayed by several months. However, this can impair your ability to rent property in the future and if you lose the case you can be held liable for back rent. If the new owner wins the eviction lawsuit, a court order will be granted allowing the local sheriff to forcibly remove you.
Currently living in Austin, Texas, Alexander Harris is a business journalist covering the self storage industry for SpareFoot.com and SelfStorage.com. Harris previously wrote daily news for RichmondBizSense.com, a business journal in his hometown of Richmond, Va. His work has appeared in various other publications including "Philadelphia Citypaper," Stateline.org, "RVA Magazine" and the "Virginian-Pilot." Harris holds a mass communications degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.