Friday, August 19, 2011

Changes to Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Act Curtails Important Foreclosure Defense Strategy

The Illinois General Assembly recently passed an amendment to the Mortgage Foreclosure Act that will severely impair homeowners in their Illinois foreclosure defense cases.  The amendment sets a deadline for filing a motion to dismiss based on an objection to the court’s jurisdiction over the defendant in a foreclosure action at 60 days after a homeowner merely appears in court or files an appearance in court. 

A homeowner may appear in court for a number of reasons, even for something as minor as notifying a judge that he or she is applying for a loan modification.  Loan modifications are commonly sought by those seeking more flexible payments choices to meeting their financial obligations.  These modifications can often help homeowners meet their payments, avoid foreclosure, and keep their homes.  However, the recent amendment will put homeowners at risk because it significantly curtails the deadline by which a homeowner can file for a motion to dismiss a lender’s case after essentially appearing before a judge for any reason. 

Our Oak Park foreclosure attorneys know that the motion to dismiss is a powerful defensive tool in litigation.  If granted by the judge, it ends that particular case completely and often forces the plaintiff-bank to reevaluate the legal framework under which they filed the act. The recent changes to the Mortgage Foreclosure Act are extremely troubling because homeowners who are not represented by an attorney may not be aware of all of their rights.  Homeowners who attempt to work with the bank early on in the process in order to avoid losing their homes may never file a motion to dismiss and may not realize they are giving up an important right by merely going before a judge and explaining their situation.  If the case later progresses and the homeowner is not able to work with the bank, the homeowner who has already appeared in court may have lost his or her right to file a motion to dismiss based on personal jurisdiction forever.  For example, this will frequently be the case in situations where the homeowner tried to obtain a loan modification and could not get one or the bank was not honest with the homeowner about the chances of modification.

Especially in these tough economic times when many families are struggling to make ends meet, foreclosure can occur for many reasons.  Homeowners should not consider a situation hopeless, because there are many foreclosure defense options at their disposal, including seeking out professionals who are experienced and well versed in Chicago foreclosure law.  Changes to Illinois foreclosure law make it imperative that all residents take steps right away to ensure that they have as much up-to-date information about foreclosure defense as possible so they can best protect their rights.

Protecting the rights of homeowners is the main goal of our Oak Park foreclosure lawyers. Properly defending a foreclosure action is essential because failing to do so can risk homeowners the loss of their home, a personal judgment for the debt, and the loss of future credit, since a foreclosure judgment appears on credit reports. If you or someone you know is going through this process, please contact our attorneys at Emerson Law Firm to learn about your rights and take advantage of your legal options.

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