Summons: An order to appear before a judge, or the writ containing such an order.
Summons: A summons is a legal document issued by a court or by an administrative agency of government which is served on a person involved in a legal proceeding. The summons may indicate that a legal action is in progress or that the person’s presence as witness is required.
Responding to a Foreclosure Summons
A summons is a written notification served on a person as a warning to appear in court to answer a complaint.
Generally, a foreclosure summons is a legal document that details the bank’s claims for the lawsuit they are filing against the homeowner. Most summons include the following:
- Details of the mortgage
- Details of the promissory note
- A description of the property in foreclosure
- The loan default date
- The outstanding loan balance
- A list of the borrowers with interest in the property
- The bank’s request for legal action
- A request for a deficiency judgment
A mortgage foreclosure summons will typically state the following
“To each defendant: You are summoned and required to file an answer to the complaint in this case, a copy of which is hereto attached, or otherwise file your appearance, in the office of the Clerk of this Court, within 30 days after service of this summons, not counting the day of service. If you fail to do so, a judgment by default may be entered against you for the relief asked in the complaint.”
According to New York State, “The first step for you after receiving the summons and complaint is to file an answer with the court and to send the answer to the law firm that is representing the lender. If the lawsuit is given to you by personal service, you have 20 days from the date of delivery to file and send an answer. If you receive it by mail, you have 30 days from the date of mailing to file and send an answer. It is very important to file and send an answer. Failing to do so could result in a default judgment against you.”
Homeowners are expected to answer the summons and complaint within a certain time frame. If they fail to do so, it is likely that a default judgment will be issued against them, meaning they will lose the case and probably their home in a foreclosure sale.
According to California attorney Thomas P. Hogan, “You can request the court to extend the time to file your reply. You can do this by submitting the appropriate form to the court. The form is available with the court clerk. You should return the completed form to the court along with the filing fee, if any and serve a copy of the completed form to the lender. A judge will then decide whether or not to extend the time. If your request is granted, the judge will specify the new time period within which you must respond to the summons. Alternatively, you could contact the lender’s attorney and request for an extension. If the attorney agrees for an extension, you should get it in writing and file it in the court.”
It is not easy to get a court to reopen a default judgment. A compelling reason must be given for not answering the complaint. If a homeowner was not properly served with the summons and complaint, they can use this to appeal the default judgement, though they should consult an attorney before doing so.
In Wisconsin, for example, “If you don’t think you will be able to file your answer within 20 days, you can ask the plaintiff’s attorney for more time. If he or she agrees, ask for the agreement to be put in writing and filed with the court. As with all documents filed with the court, make sure to keep a copy for your own records.”