One of the first steps in the foreclosure step-by-step process involves the receipt of the foreclosure summons and complaint. It marks the official start of legal foreclosure action against the debtor in states like Florida, which use a judicial foreclosure process. Therefore, the way a borrower handles the summons and complaint will have a significant impact on the case’s outcome.
To respond or not to respond?
Believe it or not, responding to the complaint is not always the smartest move. In some instances, there may be evidence that supports a dismissal of the foreclosure suit altogether. While some of these may be able to be addressed in the answer itself, it may make more sense to not acknowledge the suit if it can be dismissed quickly. For instance, if the summons contained an error or missing documentation, it may be able to be thrown out, thus extending the time the debtor has to build a strong defense, or even satisfy the debt. Alternatively, one may simply not wish to fight the foreclosure at all. For this reason, enlisting the expertise of a foreclosure defense attorney as early as possible is advisable. This individual will be able to make an informed recommendation regarding one’s unique situation.
Drafting the Answer
In the state of Florida, a debtor is only allotted 20 days to provide a response to the complaint. Some action should be taken during this time frame, or else one forfeits their right to fight the foreclosure at all. If a blatant error does not exist to warrant the complaint’s dismissal, it is usually advisable for the individual who has been served to answer the complaint. That answer can either admit fault, deny the lender’s claims, or argue that sufficient information has not been provided to allow the debtor to provide an informed response.
The answer should address every individual paragraph within the complaint, providing one of the three aforementioned responses to each point made. It is important to note that an admission of the lender’s claims will make those claims factual in the eyes of the court. Therefore, before opting to do so, one should consult with an experienced attorney to review the complaint and the case as a whole. If one elects to deny an allegation made, it will require the lender to prove that allegation as fact. The debtor may opt to include an affirmative defense to those particular claims within the answer letter, offering any evidence that exists to support said defense. For example, if one is denying the claim that a payment was not made by attesting the opposite, he or she could simply provide the bank statement that supports this defense.
Once the answer has been drafted, it will need to be signed by the defendant and mailed to the lender’s attorney in the form of a copy. The original answer should be filed with the courthouse to be placed on the record. From there, the foreclosure process will progress until a judgment can be made.
Looking to learn more about the foreclosure step by step process, or have a potential case for our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys? A free consultation with a member of our team is just a call away. Contact our office today to begin the process of seeking justice, together.