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Understanding Lis Pendens, Complaint, and Summons

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The foreclosure process starts once a homeowner misses his first monthly mortgage payment and the lender enters a written Notice of Default. However, the actual foreclosure lawsuit begins when three documents are filed and served to the mortgager: a Lis Pendens, a complaint, and a summons. It is important to understand what each of these documents are and how they initiate litigation in the Florida foreclosure timeline.

1. Lis Penden

During the Florida foreclosure timeline, the first legal action the lender will take is to file a complaint for foreclosure and a summons with a lis pendens, latin for “litigation pending. This is a document that declares the lender has sued the homeowner and intends to foreclose on their home. It not only provides official notice of the lawsuit to the defendant (typically the homeowner), but also alerts the general public (including buyers and lenders) that the concerned property is involved in a lawsuit. The lis pendens is filed by the lender in the county courthouse, where it is publicly recorded.

2. Complaint for Foreclosure

Along with the lis pendens, a complaint for foreclosure must also be filed. The complaint details the claims of the plaintiff, typically the lender, against the mortgager. The document will outline the mortgage and promissory note, describe the mortgager’s default and debt owed, and identify the homeowners and their interest in the property. The complaint for foreclosure also includes what the lender is seeking from the court’s judgment, which is usually to take legal possession of the property in question and utilize the sale proceeds to satisfy the mortgage debt. Additionally, when the proceeds fall short of covering the full debt amount lenders can use the complaint to ask for a deficiency judgment.

3. Summons

The third document that must be filed is a summons. The summons must be issued to each of the defendants named in the complaint. This document officially informs the homeowners being sued that they must file a written answer laying out their defense against the claims made by the plaintiff. It also provides the time frame in which the defendants must file their answer, if they wish to fight the foreclosure. According to the Florida foreclosure timeline, homeowners have 20 days to respond. After the lis pendens, complaint, and summons are filed in the county courthouse, a copy of each must be served to the defendants.

It is highly recommended to seek the legal advice of a skilled Miami foreclosure defense attorney after you receive a notice of default from your lender. However, it becomes even more critical after you are served the three documents discussed above. You have only twenty days to come up with a defense against the foreclosure lawsuit, or risk having the court rule in favor of your lender.

Work with an experienced Miami foreclosure defense attorney to fight the foreclosure, explore foreclosure alternatives, and extend your timeline for foreclosure from 6 months to over 4 years. Call Graham Legal today for a free consultation.

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