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Why You Must Act Within 20 Days of Receiving a Lis Pendens

Foreclosure sign in front on modern house

You missed a mortgage payment. Now what?

When you miss your first mortgage payment your lender is required to send a Notice of Default before the true foreclosure process begins. If you receive this notice, do not take it lightly. This is your opportunity to contact your lender or seek legal counsel before you find yourself locked into the foreclosure timeline.

Technically, the actual foreclosure process doesn’t begin in earnest until three documents are served: the Lis Pendens, complaint and summons. From here, the clock starts to tick.

  1. The number not to forget.

20 days. This is the magic number. The number you must not forget or let slip past you. You have only 20 days to respond to a Lis Pendens or else you waive your right to fight a foreclosure.

What happens if you don’t respond?

Failure to respond to the Lis Pendens will result in a summary judgement against you and you will be practically guaranteed to lose the case by default. By not responding you have effectively waived your right to contest all foreclosure proceedings. You should NEVER waive your rights, even if you are certain you have no case. There is almost always some course of action that can be taken in the foreclosure process.

What is a Lis Pendens?

Lis Pendens is Latin for “suit pending.” It is the official notice, put on public record, that a lawsuit has been filed which will put a claim on your property. When a bank or lender files a Lis Pendens it is effectively forcing you to assume the litigation associated with it. It puts the ownership of your property in dispute and it cannot be lifted until the suit has been settled.

Incorrect filing of Lis Pendens

One of the main reasons to respond to a Lis Pendens is that it may have been incorrectly issued. There are a number of reasons a Lis Pendens can be filed in addition to foreclosure. It can be filed in divorce cases when one spouse is contesting ownership or in the case of unsafe conditions. It can be filed if heirs are contesting an estate or in the case of defrauded buyers who believe they should have been the ones to purchase a home.

If the Lis Pendens was filed inaccurately or fraudulently, it can mean serious consequences for the party filing. Misuse can result in slander of title and place the issuer under significant liability.

Before you decide to ignore a Lis Pendens, you should contact a trusted foreclosure defense attorney. Don’t give up your right to fight.

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