During the last few years of the “housing crisis”, I’ve seen many people whose houses are in foreclosure. They want to save their house. They get the “court papers”- the Complaint for Foreclosure. So they go to court and try to figure out what to do. If you are in CookCounty, the Court has some well-intentioned programs to help people. The Judge even tells the defendants to talk to some “housing counselors” in the hall.
When people talk to the housing counselors, they get some advice, on how to apply for different loan modification programs, how to contact their bank, etc. BUT, these counselors are NOT lawyers. The counselors even give people form “answers” to fill out. This is not just a regular form, though. You are in a legal proceeding, and, if you fill out the answer, and filing it with the court, you probably don’t know the consequences. And you shouldn’t, because you aren’t a lawyer. The court wants people to participate in the proceedings, but the Judge and the counselors are NOT YOUR LAWYERS. Once you file an answer in a legal proceedings, you are possibly giving up certain legal defenses in your case. For instance, if the mortgage company didn’t “serve” you properly, i.e. deliver the papers to you properly according to the law, they cannot proceed further. But, if you file an answer, they can, and you’ve given up the right to contest that part of your case.
Too many times, people in a foreclosure case come to me too late, when they’ve filed an answer to a complaint, and didn’t realize that they have given up some of their legal defenses. And, if it is too late, you won’t be able to use those rights to defend your case, or to get more time in your foreclosure case to stay in the house, or attempt to modify your loan. Take a look at my earlier blog post “House Foreclosure Date Soon- Do I have Defenses to Foreclosure?” to see how limited your choices are so late in the foreclosure process.
The moral of the story is: go see a lawyer right away, when the foreclosure is started, or earlier, and have a lawyer on your side from the beginning. Call us to discuss your foreclosure questions. We will help you. We have offices in Chicago, Oak Lawn, Gurnee, and Skokie, Illinois, and offer free consultations.
Daniel J. Winter