In 2012, more than 70,000 foreclosures were filed in Ohio, only slightly lower than the previous year. Despite measures to stem the rate of foreclosures, figures are still twice as high as they have been in the 10 years before the housing market started to crash in 2007.
If you are one among those who face the risk of foreclosure, you should know about the ways in which you can fight to keep your home.
Here are some ways to stop a foreclosure
1. You are serving in the military – If you are on active duty, you may be entitled to some protection from foreclosure under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). A foreclosure completed while you are on active duty and for a year thereafter would be considered invalid. You may also request a postponement of any foreclosure proceedings.
2. State foreclosure procedures were not followed – Foreclosure procedures may vary by state. In Ohio, the practice is judicial foreclosure–which means that the foreclosing party must sue you, provide evidence against you, and depend upon a judge to decide on the case. If you can show that the lender did not follow state procedures for foreclosure–for example, if you were not sent a copy of the complaint to foreclose–the judge may dismiss the case. This is because you were deprived of time to reinstate your mortgage.
3. The lender does not actually own the mortgage – It very often happens that a mortgage is bought and sold by a series of lenders over the life of a loan. You need to be sure that the entity that sues you for foreclosure actually has “standing”–that is, owns the mortgage–at the time they file a lawsuit. If this isn’t the case, you can move for a dismissal. In October of 2012, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned the decision on a foreclosure that had been granted to Freddie Mac because of its lack of standing at the time it filed the suit.
4. The lender made a significant mistake – There are a number of ways a lender can make a serious mistake in servicing your mortgage. For example, the may make errors in calculating the balance you owe on your mortgage, fail to pay your property tax when you had agreed to have the amount credited to your escrow fund, credit your payments to the wrong account, or make late payment charges on payments that were current. If these errors can be proven, your case may be dismissed or delayed.
5. You have been subjected to unfair lending practices – If your lender has violated state or federal laws against unfair lending practices, you may have a way to fight against your foreclosure. The two main statutes that were created to protect borrowers are the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). These guard against usurious lending practices and require full and accurate disclosure of mortgage terms.
Dealing with a possible foreclosure is difficult and stressful. You will need an experienced Ohio foreclosure defense attorney to guide you through the process and give you the best possible chances to keep your home.