Text Size

Current Size: 100%

Foreclosure: Your Rights and Options

This article was produced by LARCC in cooperation with CLS, GHLA, NHLAA, and SLS.

Foreclosure: Your Rights and Options

Read this if you’re behind on your mortgage or a debt like tax liens or condo fees.  If you’re behind on your mortgage, visit the Connecticut Fair Housing Center at www.ctfairhousing.org for more detailed help.  

What happens during foreclosure - if you’re behind on your mortgage

  • Don’t ignore the problem. Talk to your lender when you start having problems, you may be able to work out a payment plan or modification and avoid foreclosure.
  • Call the Mortgage Foreclosure Assistance Hotline at 1-877-472-8313. They can answer some of your questions and send you written materials.
  • Get help
    • Talk to a free HUD approved housing counselor.  A counselor can help you apply for programs.  For a referral to a counselor, call Infoline 211 or go online www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm.
    • Talk to a lawyer.  Volunteer attorneys give advice and answer questions at some courthouses. Call 860-263-2734 for more information.  You may be able to get free legal help. Call Statewide Legal Services at 1-800-453-3320 or 860-344-0380.
    • Call 1-888-995-4673 or go online at http://www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov for federal programs.
    • Call 1-877-571-2432 or 860-571-3500 or go online at www.chfa.org for state programs.
    • If you think the lender misled or tricked you into a mortgage you can’t afford, the Attorney General’s Office may be able to take action against your lender. Call 860-808-5318. 

Warning! Be careful of groups who claim they can “save” your home from foreclosure.  Work only with a HUD-approved counselor.

You do not need to hire a lawyer. Most people in foreclosure handle their cases without a lawyer.

1. Get court papers
Foreclosure starts when a marshal serves you a Summons, Complaint, and Mediation Certificate.   The return date is in the upper right hand corner of the Summons. You must give the court your Appearance and Mediation forms within 15 days after the return date.  You do not have to go to court on the return date.

2. Fill out and file court forms

Important! If you don’t live in Connecticut, talk to a lawyer before you file your forms.

AppearanceAnswerMediation Certificate

The Appearance tells the court your name and address and that you are representing yourself in the foreclosure. 

Get the Appearance form

  • from the court clerk (court form JD-CL-12), or online.

After you give the court your Appearance form you will get notice of everything that happens in your case.







 

Most people don’t have to fill out an Answer.  You should only fill out an Answer form if you have a defense to the foreclosure. Talk to a lawyer before you file an answer.

Get the Answer form

  • from the court clerk (court form JD-CV-106), or online.

Before you fill out the Answer form, read everything in the Complaint very carefully.

Fill out the Answer by checking Agree, Disagree, or Do Not Know for each paragraph in the Complaint.  If you don’t understand a paragraph, check Do Not Know.

Use the Special Defenses section to explain why the court should let you keep your home.

The Mediation Program tries to work out an agreement between you and your lender. Mediation is mandatory if you live in and own a 1-4 family building.  Mediation is free.

Get the Mediation form

  • attached to the foreclosure papers,
  • from the court clerk or online (JD-CV-108).










 

3. Give your Appearance and Mediation forms to the court and other parties within 15 days after the return date.  Give your signed forms to the court clerk and send a copy to everyone who filed an Appearance in the case.   The court clerk will give you a list of everyone who filed an Appearance. You must send every one who filed an Appearance a copy of anything you give the court during the foreclosure.

If you don’t file your forms on time,you may not be able to fight the foreclosure. If you miss any deadline, contact the court clerk IMMEDIATELY.

4. Meet with the mediator.  Mediation is scheduled automatically if your case qualifies. Mediation can take up to 8 months. Talk to a Housing Counselor or lawyer before you go.

Tips for Mediation

  • If you want to keep your home, don’t agree to move out. 
  • If you can’t work out an agreement, you can ask to see the judge after mediation is finished
  • The mediator can’t make the lender agree to something but may help the lender to be more flexible
  • Keep all appointments and complete all paperwork the mediator asks of you. If you don’t, the foreclosure may move forward faster.  If the lender doesn’t do what the mediator asks, talk to a lawyer to find out your options.  The lender’s representatives may be at some appointments, but won’t be at every one.

5. Go to EVERY court date

If the judge orders foreclosure of your property, you can ask for extra time

  • To sell or refinance the house,
  • Let your kids finish the school year, or
  • if you need extra time to move because you or a family member is disabled

The judge will order either strict foreclosure or foreclosure by sale.  You can decide which one is right for you.  If you don’t decide, the judge will probably order a strict foreclosure.

Strict Foreclosure or Foreclosure by Sale…which is right for me?

Strict Foreclosure

Foreclosure by Sale

  1. The judge sets a date called a “law day.”
  2. You have until your law day to pay what you owe, usually the debt plus court costs and attorney’s fees. You can try to sell the property or get a loan to pay what you owe.

 

 

  1. The judge sets a sale date.
  2. Before the sale date you can pay what you owe, usually the debt plus court costs and attorney’s fees.  You can try to sell the property or get a loan to pay what you owe. OR
  3. On the sale date your property is auctioned to the highest bidder.  The money goes to auction and court costs first and to pay the plaintiffs the debt you owe second.  If there is any money left it goes to you.

Things to remember

  • If another defendant pays the debt by their law day, they will own the property.
  • If no one pays the debt, the plaintiff owns the property.  The plaintiff is the party that brought the case, usually the bank, town, or condo association.
  • You will not get any of the equity in your property in a strict foreclosure.

Things to remember

  • Only ask for a foreclosure by sale if you have a lot of equity in your property.
  • You must file a Motion for Foreclosure by Sale with the court.  Ask the court clerk for help with this.
  • There will be a court hearing on your Motion.  The judge will want to know that the property is worth more than your total debt.

If you don’t leave after the foreclosure…

If you don’t leave after the law or sale date, the new owner will get a marshal to move your things out. The marshal will give you notice of the time and date he is coming.  You may only get 24 hours notice.

On the day and time in the notice, the marshal will come with movers. If you haven’t moved your things out, the movers will put your things in storage. You have 15 days to claim them from storage.  After 15 days, the town can auction them off.   Call your town and ask where your things are being stored. The town may charge you a storage fee.

Important!  If you’re 18 or older, you have to move out ONLY IF YOU’RE NAME IS LISTED in the foreclosure or eviction papers. 

You may owe money after the foreclosure…

Foreclosure by Sale - If you owe more than the property sold for, the court will enter a judgment against you for the difference (called a “deficiency judgment”).

Strict Foreclosure - If you owe more than the property is worth the plaintiff has 30 days after the law day to ask the court to enter a judgment against you (called a “deficiency judgment”).  There will be hearing where you can tell the judge why your property is worth more than the plaintiff says it’s worth. You can hire your own appraiser, ask the plaintiff's appraiser questions to show that his value is wrong, or testify about the value yourself.

Other options

  • If You Have a VA, HUD, FmHA or FHA Insured Mortgage, you may have other rights. Talk to a lawyer.
  • If you are being foreclosed because of a judgment lien, like credit card, medical, or other debt, for a debt that is not related to your home the first $75,000 ($125,000 for hospital debt) of equity in your home is protected. Talk to a lawyer.
  • You can sell your property any time before the law day or sale date. Selling the property may save you court and auction costs.  Make sure you’ll get enough from the sale to cover the total debt. If you can’t find a buyer willing to pay a high enough price, you can ask the plaintiff if it will accept less for your debt (called a “short sale”).
  • If you don’t have very much equity and can’t refinance or sell your property, you can ask the plaintiff to take your property and cancel the foreclosure and/or deficiency judgment (called “deed in lieu of foreclosure”). You will not have a foreclosure in your credit history. You may have to pay conveyance taxes. Talk to a lawyer.
  • You can pay off the debt, interest, court costs, and other fees on or before the law or sale date.  Get a Satisfaction of Judgment from the plaintiff that says you paid off the amount of the judgment.  File the Satisfaction of Judgment with the court clerk.  File a certified copy of the Satisfaction of Judgment with the town clerk where the property is located.
  • You can ask the judge to extend the law or sale date if you need time to sell the property or pay off your debt.  This may increase the amount you owe.  Ask the court clerk for help with this.  You must ask before the law or sale date. At the hearing, tell the judge how and when you plan to pay off your debt.
  • Filing bankruptcy may prevent foreclosure. Talk to a lawyer.

Resources

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) both provide counseling for people facing foreclosure. Call the Connecticut Department of Banking Foreclosure Hotline (1-877-472-8318) to find a CHFA-HUD approved housing counselor in your area. You can also visit Connecticut Fair Housing Center.

There are programs that help can help you keep your home or reduce your debt.  To access programs

  • Call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673)  or visit  http://www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov
  • Call the Connecticut Housing Finance Authorityat 1-877-571-2432 or 860-571-3500 or visit www.chfa.org
  •  Talk to a HUD-certified housing counselor, call Infoline 211for a referral

Program

How to Qualify

Home Affordable Modification Program reduces your mortgage payment to 31% of your pre-tax income.

Making on time payments can reduce your principal up to $1,000/year.

  • Own a 1-4-family home
  • Took out your mortgage before January 2, 2009
  • Have a mortgage payment that’s more than 31% of your pre-tax income

Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program helps if your lender agreed to a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

You can get $3,000 for relocation costs and up to $6,000 to pay off other liens on your property.

  • You sold your property for less than you owe and the lender agreed to accept the lower amount for the property (called a “short sale”)
  • The lender agreed to take your property and stop the foreclosure (called “deed in lieu of foreclosure”)

Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program helps you get caught up on past due payments and with payments temporarily.  This is a loan program and you must pay the money back.

You must show that you can afford your mortgage when EMAP stops helping you pay, for example you

  •  lost your job and will find a new one
  • are refinancing to get a more affordable payment

What happens during foreclosure -if you’re behind on a debt…

1. Get court papers
Foreclosure starts when a marshal serves you a Summons and Complaint.  The return date is in the upper right hand corner of the Summons. You must give the court your Appearance and Answer forms within 15 days after the return date.  You do not have to go to court on the return date.

 2. Fill out your Appearance and Answer forms

Important! If you don’t live in Connecticut, talk to a lawyer before you file your Appearance and Answer.

Appearance

Answer

The Appearance tells the court your name and address and that you are representing yourself in the foreclosure. 

Get the Appearance form

  • from the court clerk (court form JD-CL-12), or online.

After you give the court your Appearance form you will get notice of everything that happens in your case.

The Answer tells the court if you agree with what’s in the Complaint.

Get the Answer form

  • from the court clerk (court form JD-CV-106), or online.

Before you fill out the Answer form, read everything in the Complaint very carefully.

Fill out the Answer by checking Agree, Disagree, or Do Not Know for each paragraph in the Complaint.

If you don’t understand a paragraph, check Do Not Know.

Use the Special Defenses section to explain why the court should let you keep your home.

 3. Give your Appearance and Answer forms to the court and other parties within 15 days after the return date.

Give your signed forms to the court clerk and send a copy to everyone who filed an Appearance in the case.   The court clerk will give you a list of everyone who filed an Appearance. You must send every one of them a copy of anything you give the court during the foreclosure.

If you don’t file an Appearance and Answer within 15 days after the return date, you may not be able to fight the foreclosure. If you miss any deadline, contact the court clerk IMMEDIATELY.

4. Go to EVERY court date

If the judge orders foreclosure of your property, you can ask for extra time

  • To sell or refinance the house,
  • Let your kids finish the school year, or
  • if you need extra time to move because you or a family member is disabled

The judge will order either strict foreclosure or foreclosure by sale.  You can decide which one is right for you.  If you don’t decide, the judge will probably order a strict foreclosure.

Strict Foreclosure or Foreclosure by Sale…which is right for me?

Strict Foreclosure

Foreclosure by Sale

  1. The judge sets a date called a “law day.”
  2. You have until your law day to pay what you owe, usually the debt plus court costs and attorney’s fees. You can try to sell the property or get a loan to pay what you owe.

 

 

  1. The judge sets a sale date.
  2. Before the sale date you can pay what you owe, usually the debt plus court costs and attorney’s fees.  You can try to sell the property or get a loan to pay what you owe. OR
  3. On the sale date your property is auctioned to the highest bidder.  The money goes to auction and court costs first and to pay the plaintiffs the debt you owe second.  If there is any money left it goes to you.

Things to remember

  • If another defendant pays the debt by their law day, they will own the property.
  • If no one pays the debt, the plaintiff owns the property.  The plaintiff is the party that brought the case, usually the bank, town, or condo association.
  • You will not get any of the equity in your property in a strict foreclosure.

Things to remember

  • Only ask for a foreclosure by sale if you have a lot of equity in your property.
  • You must file a Motion for Foreclosure by Sale with the court.  Ask the court clerk for help with this.
  • There will be a court hearing on your Motion.  The judge will want to know that the property is worth more than your total debt.

If you don’t leave after the foreclosure…

If you don’t leave after the law or sale date, the new owner will get a marshal to move your things out. The marshal will give you notice of the time and date he is coming.  You may only get 24 hours notice.

On the day and time in the notice, the marshal will come with movers. If you haven’t moved your things out, the movers will put your things in storage. You have 15 days to claim them from storage.  After 15 days, the town can auction them off.   Call your town and ask where your things are being stored. The town may charge you a storage fee.

Important! If you’re 18 or older, you have to move out ONLY IF YOU’RE NAME IS LISTED in the foreclosure or eviction papers. 

You may owe money after the foreclosure…

Foreclosure by Sale - If you owe more than the property sold for, the court will enter a judgment against you for the difference (called a “deficiency judgment”).

Strict Foreclosure - If you owe more than the property is worth the plaintiff has 30 days after the law day to ask the court to enter a judgment against you (called a “deficiency judgment”).  There will be hearing where you can tell the judge why your property is worth more than the plaintiff says it’s worth. You can hire your own appraiser, ask the plaintiff's appraiser questions to show that his value is wrong, or testify about the value yourself.

Other options

  • If You Have a VA, HUD, FmHA or FHA Insured Mortgage, you may have other rights. Talk to a lawyer.
  • If you are being foreclosed because of a judgment lien, like credit card, medical, or other debt, for a debt that is not related to your home the first $75,000 ($125,000 for hospital debt) of equity in your home is protected. Talk to a lawyer.
  • You can sell your property any time before the law day or sale date. Selling the property may save you court and auction costs.  Make sure you’ll get enough from the sale to cover the total debt. If you can’t find a buyer willing to pay a high enough price, you can ask the plaintiff if it will accept less for your debt (called a “short sale”).
  • If you don’t have very much equity and can’t refinance or sell your property, you can ask the plaintiff to take your property and cancel the foreclosure and/or deficiency judgment (called “deed in lieu of foreclosure”). You will not have a foreclosure in your credit history. You may have to pay conveyance taxes. Talk to a lawyer.
  • You can pay off the debt, interest, court costs, and other fees on or before the law or sale date.  Get a Satisfaction of Judgment from the plaintiff that says you paid off the amount of the judgment.  File the Satisfaction of Judgment with the court clerk.  File a certified copy of the Satisfaction of Judgment with the town clerk where the property is located.
  • You can ask the judge to extend the law or sale date if you need time to sell the property or pay off your debt.  This may increase the amount you owe.  Ask the court clerk for help with this.  You must ask before the law or sale date. At the hearing, tell the judge how and when you plan to pay off your debt.
  • Filing bankruptcy may prevent foreclosure. Talk to a lawyer.

Resources

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) both provide counseling for people facing foreclosure. Call the Connecticut Department of Banking Foreclosure Hotline (1-877-472-8318) to find a CHFA-HUD approved housing counselor in your area. You can also visit Connecticut Fair Housing Center.

This booklet was produced by the Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut in cooperation with Connecticut Legal Services, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, New Haven Legal Assistance Association, and Statewide Legal Services. 

The information in this booklet is based on laws in Connecticut as of January 2014. We hope that the information is helpful. It is not intended as legal advice. For advice on your situation, call Statewide Legal Services or contact a lawyer.

For more information, contact:

Statewide Legal Services: 860-344-0380 (Central CT & Middletown) or 1-800-453-3320 (all other regions).

Not from Connecticut?

Most of the information on this web site is for Connecticut residents only. Visit LawHelp.org to find a legal services program and/or a legal information web site in your area.