The Summons and Complaint is what tells you that a lawsuit has been started. The Summons and Complaint are created by the Bank’s attorneys, and throughout them you will be referred to as the Defendant. The Summons is usually one of the first pages, and tells you some basic information about the lawsuit that has been started. It will tell you the name of the entity that has filed the foreclosure against you. This may simply be the name of your Bank.
Since New York is a Judicial Foreclosure State, you will first receive the 30 days’ notice that the lender is trying to foreclose on you. You have 20 to 30 days to respond to this notice. The key thing to realize here is that being in a judicial foreclosure state allows you to automatically have the right to contest the foreclosure. This will give you several months time before the judge rules on whether to grant the foreclosure or not.
When you receive the Summons and Complaint, you should also receive a notice that again informs you that help is available through a housing counseling agency. This notice will be on a different colored paper, and in larger font. It should list all the HUD approved housing counseling agencies listed in the folder of this guidebook. If you have not contacted a housing counseling agency at this point, we once again STRONGLY urge you to contact one of them and make an appointment to talk to a counselor.
It is important to note that you may receive a Summons and Complaint even if you have begun working with a housing counseling agency or with the Bank directly. You may be working with the Bank’s “loss mitigation” department, which is the group that works with struggling homeowners to come up with a plan that allows you to keep your home. You may have sent in multiple rounds of documents to the Bank, and may be hopeful that a solution to your problem is just around the corner. However, most large banks have a completely separate department that deals with filing foreclosures. Therefore, even if you are in the process of working with the Bank, the Bank still may start a foreclosure against you. If that is the case, do not despair. You can continue to work with the Bank throughout the foreclosure proceeding. So if they have asked for more documents, or have told you they are reviewing your file, you should continue this process!
Once you receive the Summons and Complaint, it is EXTREMELY important that you open ALL mail sent to you by your Bank’s attorney, and by the Court. Important notices about the status of your case will be mailed to you, and it is critical that you be aware of these developments.