Understanding Foreclosures

Understanding ForeclosuresThe term foreclosure refers to a lawsuit brought, usually by a financial institution, against a homeowner. The legal proceeding is brought in the Supreme Court of the County in which the property is located. The financial institution is always represented by a law firm. The law firm is not an in-house law firm. It is always a law firm hired by the financial institution that specializes in bringing foreclosure actions against homeowners.

Judgment to Sell the House

The purpose of the foreclosure lawsuit is for the financial institution to obtain an judgment from a Supreme Court judge. This will allow the financial institution to have a referee appointed to sell the homeowner’s home at a public auction. The money received from the sale of the homeowner’s home goes to the financial institution to pay them what they are owed on the note and mortgage.

The Note and Mortgage

There are 2 documents of importance in a foreclosure. The first one is the note. When you buy a home you sign a note. The note is simply an IOU. The note is an agreement that basically states the financial institution is loaning you money and you agree to pay it back. There are various terms and obligations maintained in the paperwork regarding the note.

The Mortgage

The mortgage is a separate document from the note. It is actually a separate contract. It is a security agreement which gives the financial institution a security interest in your property as collateral for the money you borrowed pursuant to the note. The mortgage states if you don’t make the payments pursuant to the terms of the note and mortgage, the financial institution can bring a foreclosure lawsuit for failure to make the payments.

The Acceleration of the Mortgage

Before a financial institution can bring a foreclosure lawsuit against a homeowner they must send an Acceleration Letter to the homeowner. The letter simply states that the lender is calling the entire amount of the mortgage and all the arrears due and payable by a specific date.

Default in Making Payments

A homeowner is generally considered to have defaulted in the payment of his or her mortgage when they are at least one payment late. However, Acceleration Letters are generally not sent to homeowners until they are 90 days behind on the payment of their mortgage.

90 Day Pre-Foreclosure Filing Notice

The law in New York has a special requirement before a foreclosure lawsuit can be initiated. The financial institution must send the homeowner notice a minimum of 90 days before they file a summons and complaint in a foreclosure lawsuit. The notice has specific language and states at least 5 non-profit housing counseling agencies located near the borrower that the borrower can go to. The notice conveys to the homeowner they are behind in their mortgage and they are going into foreclosure. The homeowner then has 90 days to try to take some action to avoid the foreclosure lawsuit.

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is the managing partner of Schlissel DeCorpo LLP. Our law firm represents homeowners throughout the Metropolitan New York area with regard to the defense of foreclosure lawsuits. We have been helping homeowners keep their homes for more than 3 decades. We can be reached for a free consultation at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at: Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

Statute of Limitations Defenses in Foreclosure Cases

Statute of Limitations DefensesThe statute of limitations is set by statute in various types of cases. The statute of limitations to bring a foreclosure case on a defaulted mortgage is 6 years from the date of default or from the date of the acceleration of a mortgage. For a variety of reasons, foreclosure cases sometimes are initiated and then withdrawn, dismissed or discontinued. If a foreclosure case is withdrawn or dismissed the statute of limitations usually starts running from the start of the original foreclosure case. If the second foreclosure case is not initiated within 6 years from the date of the acceleration of the mortgage in the first case, the statute of limitations if plead is a complete defense to the foreclosure action.

Acceleration of the Mortgage

When the homeowner defaults on making the payments on their mortgage the financial institution can accelerate the maturity of the loan. The financial institution can declare all of the payments are presently due and owing on the mortgage. The financial institution is not limited to foreclosing on the past due payments. They can recover the entire unpaid balance of principal and interest on the mortgage. To do this, the financial institution accelerates the mortgage.

The Acceleration.

The acceleration of a mortgage requires the financial institution to notify the homeowner. This is usually done by sending a letter to the homeowner advising them notice of the acceleration or simply by starting a foreclosure lawsuit. It should be noted a default letter which states the loan balance “may be” accelerated if the homeowner does not become up to date on his mortgage payment, does not necessarily accelerate the loan. In order to accelerate the loan the notice of default must state that the loan “will” be accelerated if the default is not cured.

De-Acceleration of the Mortgage

A new issue with regard to the acceleration of the mortgage involves financial institutions taking action to de-accelerate the mortgage. There is currently case law that “a lender may revoke its election to accelerate the mortgage but it must do so by an affirmative act of revocation occurring during the 6 year statute of limitations period subsequent to the initiation of the prior foreclosure action.” This can be accomplished by a letter to the homeowner.


If you believe that you have a statute of limitations defense in a foreclosure case, it is important that you retain an experienced foreclosure defense counsel with regard to this issue. The re-accelerating of the statute of limitations defense to the foreclosure lawsuit should be dealt with immediately upon receiving a copy of the summons and complaint. The statute of limitations must be pled as an affirmative defense in your answer if you hope to utilize it as a defense to the lawsuit. Remember if the statute of limitation defense applies you may be looking at having a free home in your near future!

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is the managing partner of Schlissel DeCorpo LLP. Elliot has been litigating foreclosure defense matters for more than 45 years throughout the Metropolitan New York area. He can be reached for a free consultation at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

Foreclosure Lawsuit

foreclosure lawsuit on a mortgageThe plaintiff had brought a foreclosure lawsuit on a mortgage. All of the defendants other than Bank of America defaulted. They did not submit an answer to the summons and complaint. The plaintiff moved under court rules for an expedited proceeding. In some foreclosure actions to be eligible for an expedited procedure the plaintiff is required to waive a deficiency judgment.

No Referee Appointed

Justice Robert Quinian who sits in a foreclosure court in Suffolk County exercised his discretion to make decisions in this case without appointing a referee to compute the amount owed by the homeowner. The plaintiff in this case failed to directly provide a waiver and the court therefore could impose such a condition on the plaintiff if plaintiff’s application met statutory requirements.

More Than One Year Had Passed Since The Default

Justice Quinian found plaintiff’s motion was brought more than a year after the defendants defaulted in submitting an answer. Justice Quinian found there is a provision plaintiff could have alleged if they did not intend on abandoning the complaint, however the Judge did note that no attempt at providing a reasonable explanation for plaintiff’s delaying in an excess of one year was submitted. He therefore denied plaintiff’s motion and denied their ability to move forward with the default under the expedited procedures.

schlissel-headshotElliot S. Schlisel, Esq. is the managing partner of Schlissel DeCorpo LLP. He is a foreclosure defense lawyer litigating cases throughout the Metropolitan New York area for more than 45 years. He can be reached for a free consultation at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at Elliot@sdnylaw.com.

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