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The information on this page is NOT legal advice.If you are seeking representation or Legal advice, please contact the LASC Intake Department at 614-241-2001 or complete an online application.An attorney client relationship does not exist between you and the Legal Aid Society of Columbus.
- Directions for Responding to a Foreclosure Complaint
- Sample Motion for Extension of Time
- Sample Common Pleas Answer
- Sample Request for Mediation and Stay
How to Respond to a Foreclosure Complaint
If you have been served with a foreclosure complaint, you only have 28 Days to respond to the complaint starting from the date you received the notice. It is important to complete and file these forms as soon as possible or you will be at risk of losing your home. Even if you are working with the bank to complete a loan modification, you will need to file these documents with the court. If you live in Franklin County, you can always check the status of your case on the website here: http://fcdcfcjs.co.franklin.oh.us/CaseInformationOnline/
Depending on the county, mailing, faxing, or electronic filing of the paperwork may be available. Bringing the paperwork into the courthouse in person is always the best option because you can bring a second copy stamped by the court to keep for your own records. If you live in Franklin County and you have received a complaint filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, the address of the court is:
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas
Clerk of Courts
345 S. High St. 1st Fl.
Columbus, OH 43215
There are three ways you can file these documents in Franklin County:
- You can file online. Request a login username and password on the website here: https://efiling.franklincountyohio.gov/. All documents except entries, must be uploaded in PDF form.
- Bring the documents into Clerk’s office. The Clerk’s office will likely assist you with e-filing the documents.
- Mail the documents. Check the online docket or call to follow-up if you choose to mail the documents just to be sure they were received.
We recommend that you file two documents with the court immediately after you are served with a foreclosure complaint. If you are listed on the complaint with your partner, it is necessary that both of you sign the pleadings.
FIRST, it is necessary for you to file either a Sample Motion for Extension of Time to file an answer or an Answer itself. You have 28 days from the date you receive the complaint to file a response, and either of these two documents would qualify as a response. If you are seeking counsel or have some additional questions about what to put in your answer, it might be worthwhile to file a motion for an extension of time first. If you choose this option, you will have to monitor the court deadlines to be sure you do not miss your next deadline to file an answer. If the motion is granted, you will have additional time to file an answer but you need to check the date the court says your answer is due. If you do not trust yourself to track the new date the answer is due, it may be the best option to go ahead and file the answer itself.
SECOND, you can request the court set the case for mediation. Mediation gives you a chance to talk to your lender with the supervision of the court mediator. In mediation, you can try to work out an agreement to keep your home and pay your mortgage. If you would like to stay in your home, it is recommended that you file the second document requesting mediation. In addition to requesting mediation, the motion asks the court to change the schedule so that the court does not make any decisions while you are trying to work out an agreement with the lender. Please note that the court may or may not grant your request for mediation.
Specifics: It is helpful to have the forms in front of you when you read these directions.
- Caption/Heading – All of the documents need you to fill in the heading information. You can find this information the first page of the Complaint you received. You need to fill in the name of the Court, the case number, and information about you and the other party.
- The party who sued you is the “Plaintiff.”
- You are the “Defendant”.
- Body –
- Motions – Fill in your name on the first line after Defendant, and Sign your name After “respectfully submitted.” Be sure to include your address and telephone number in the lines below your name.
- Answer – In order to complete the answer, it is necessary to have a copy of the Plaintiff’s complaint in front of you. Specifically, look at the numbered paragraphs containing statements. The statements will say things like “Defendant defaulted on her loan and owes a certain amount of money.” Determine which statements you agree with and which statements you disagree with. It is also possible to conclude there is not enough information or you can agree to part of paragraph X, but disagree with the rest of it. If you agree to all of the statements in the Complaint, the Court will rule against you because there is no dispute. There are more detailed instructions included with the Answer form.
- Certificate of Service – This portion tells the court that you mailed a copy to the other parties in the case. It is easiest to mail the copies on the same day that you file the paperwork with the court so that you do not forget anything. Add the date you mailed this document out. Look at the parties listed on the complaint and include their contact information in this portion. Include the Plaintiff’s attorney and all of the other parties listed as Defendants in the case.
- Mail a Copy to the other parties in the case. Make enough copies of the entire form after you have completed it to mail a copy to all of the other parties and file two copies with the court. That way you will have one filed copy for your records.
- Entry – The entry is only necessary to include when you are filing one of the two motions, NOT the answer. The entry is what the court will actually sign if they agree with your motion. You only need to fill out the header. The rest is for the court to complete. When you go to the courthouse, tell the clerk of courts that you have an entry attached for the judge to sign.
What happens next?
The next steps vary from court to court. Some courts may set a “pretrial,” which is a meeting with the judge to make sure everyone knows what is going on. If a pretrial is scheduled, you should attend.
If you have asked for mediation, the court will make a decision about whether to let you go to mediation and notify you by mail. The court may want you to fill out other forms with questions about your financial situation before sending you to mediation. If you haven’t heard back from the court within a month of asking for mediation, you should call the court to ask if it will be scheduled.
You may receive papers from the Plaintiff asking the court to grant “Summary Judgment.” This means that the Plaintiff is telling the court that it should win without having to go to trial. If you have requested mediation and it hasn’t happened before you get these papers or you are in a HAMP trial modification, you must notify the court of this in writing and ask for Summary Judgment to be “stayed” or “denied.” Be sure to mail a copy of any papers you file with the court to each party.
If you need assistance with this case, contact your local legal aid. The information in this packet is only a general guideline of how certain documents should be completed and filed with the court. We cannot tell you what you should or should not say and we cannot guarantee the court will give you what you are asking for.