Why am I receiving this notice and complaint and summons?
A foreclosure case has been filed in the Richland County Common Pleas Court. The case was filed by a lender or creditor, called the “plaintiff.” The plaintiff has identified you as a person who has a legal interest in the property. If the plaintiff is successful in this case, the property could be sold and you could lose your legal interest in it. If you live at the property, you could be ordered to move by the end of the case.
What happens in a foreclosure case?
You have 28 days to file an answer in this case. If you do not file an answer the plaintiff will be able to obtain a default judgment against you for the amount of your house loan and an order to sell your property in a foreclosure auction. If you do file an answer, then any disputes raised in your answer must be resolved before judgment can be made against you and a foreclosure sale can be ordered. After a foreclosure sale is ordered, the property must be appraised to determine the minimum bid. The property will then be advertised and sold by the sheriff or private selling officer. After the sale, the court must confirm the sale and order a deed. This entire process typically takes six months to a year.
Do I have to move out of my house?
You may continue to stay in your home until this case is resolved. Unless you have made an agreement to the contrary, you generally will not be required to move out of your house until the sale is confirmed by the court. Until then, you should stay in your house and continue to maintain it.
What if I want to keep my house?
Some options which might be available – depending on your circumstance – are:
Reinstatment: Occurs when you pay the lender the entire past-due amount you owe, plus any late fees or penalties, by an agreed upon date.
Repayment Plan: Under this arrangement, you add an additional amount of money to your regular monthly payment until you make up the past-due amount you owe.
Forbearance: A formal agreement with the lender under which your mortgage payments are reduced or suspended for an agreed upon period. At the end of that period, you resume regular payments, and bring the loan current through a lump sum payment or additional partial payments over a number of months (unless the loan has also been modified to make this unnecessary).
Loan Modification: Involves permanently changing one or more of the terms of the mortgage to make payments more manageable for you. Modifications include lowering the interest rate, extending the term of the loan, or adding missed payments to the loan balance.
Mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) may offer different or additional foreclosure alternatives. For example, an FHA borrower may be eligible for a one-time payment from the FHA insurance fund to the lender to bring the mortgage current. The borrower is responsible for repaying the “partial claim” when you pay off the mortgage or sell the property.
The best solution will depend on your situation. A repayment plan may be a good remedy for someone who has to make up only one missed payment. A loan modification may be necessary for someone facing a long-term reduction in income. You and the lender work together to determine if any of the available tools will get you back on track.
f you and the lender cannot agree on a feasible repayment plan or other remedy, look into filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This temporarily suspends the foreclosure process and can force the lender to accept a repayment plan that is more affordable for you. Bankruptcy isn’t always a solution – it will damage your credit and new bankruptcy laws enacted in 2005 make it tougher to file bankruptcy for some people.
If you are not currently making payments on your mortgage loan, one of the most valuable things you can do is to put your monthly loan payments in the bank to use in working out your loan.
What if I do not want to keep my house?
If you are interested in giving up the house, you also may be able to work out an arrangement with the plaintiff at a counseling and workout conference. Although participation in a workout conference does not guarantee that you will be able to reach an agreement, it does give you a chance early in the process to determine if an option such as a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, a short sale or other resolution would be possible in your situation. These options may allow you to end your ownership and your continuing financial and maintenance obligations.
If your house does not sell for enough to pay off your loan, your lender may get a deficiency judgment against you for the difference between the sheriff sale proceeds and the amount of your loan. By negotiating with the lender to turn over the property before you move out you may be able to lessen or avoid a deficiency judgment.
It is not a good idea to simply move out and abandon your house. Empty houses are frequently damaged by freezing temperatures, leaking water, or vandalism. Such damage reduces the value of the property when it is sold and thereby potentially increases the amount of a deficiency judgment against you.
What should I do now?
As soon as possible, you should send an answer to the Richland County Clerk of Courts (with a copy to the attorney for the plaintiff) stating whether you want to try or do not want to try to keep your house. You should also point out any disputes you have with the statements plaintiff made in its complaint. This answer must be received by the Clerk no later than 28 days after the complaint was served on you or a default judgment can be entered against you.
You may fill out and use the enclosed “Answer in Mortgage Foreclosure Case” or you may draft your own answer. You may want to get legal help in drafting your answer or understanding your rights. If you are indigent you may qualify for assistance from Legal Aid of Western Ohio, 877.894.4599. In some cases, volunteer attorney assistance may be obtained by phoning the Save the Dream hotline at 888.404.4674 or the Ohio State Bar Association at 800.282.6556.
WARNING! BEWARE OF MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE RESCUE SCAMS! Any organization that asks you to pay up front for help avoiding foreclosure may be operating a scam. Help is available free of charge through the following court-approved social services agencies:
Consumer Credit Counseling Services, Inc. (CCCS): Consumer Credit Counseling services meets with homeowners to review their income and expenses and provide a realistic picture of their financial position. Telephone 800.355.2227.
Catholic Charities: Catholic Charities provides free budgeting and financial counseling to realistically assess ability to make mortgage payments and meet the responsibilities of home ownership. Contact Rebecca Owens at 2 Smith Ave., Mansfield, OH 44905. Telephone: 419.524.0733, Fax: 419.524.2055.
Benjamin Rose Institute (ESOP): ESOP: ESOP (Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People) is a non-profit, HUD certified housing counseling agency that operates as a subsidiary of the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging in Cleveland Ohio. ESOP offers free credit counseling services to help homeowners save their primary residences from foreclosure. ESOP works directly with lenders to help homeowners achieve workable solutions, including loan modifications. Telephone: 216.361.0920; Toll free telephone: 1.877.731.ESOP (1-877-731-3767); Fax: 261.361.0920; Website: Benjamin Rose Institute – ESOP
When will the Workout Conference be held?
Shortly after the foreclosure case has been filed, the Court issues a notice stating the time and place of the Initial Foreclosure Workout and Scheduling Conference. The Conference will be held approximately 90 days after the case has been filed. You can access your case and verify conference dates and times on the Court’s website at Richland County Courts.
What should I bring to the Workout Conference?
For the Workout Conference, you should bring with you ALL of the following:
  • all documents relating to your debt with the plaintiff, including copies of your original loan documents, if you have them;
  • your most recent loan statement, showing the balance owed;
  • a record of your payments;
  • information about any other liens on the property, including the name of the creditor, the date of the lien, and the amount owed;
  • a list of your bills, including the name of the creditor, the total amount owed, the amount of the monthly payments, and the date of the last payment;
  • proof of your income from all sources. If you expect a lump sum payment of money to assist you in working things out with the lender, you must bring proof of the amount of the payment you will receive, the source, and the date the payment is expected to arrive.