Foreclosure Defense – Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law
By Steven A. Leahy
Foreclosure is the process necessary for a mortgage lender (i.e. mortgagee) to take possession of a property because the borrower (i.e. mortgagor, homeowner) defaults on a contractual obligation to the mortgage lender, usually a default in payments. In Illinois, Mortgage foreclosures are governed by the Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law (IMFL) 735 ILCS 5/15-1101 et seq. (2013). IMFL sets out the “mode of procedure” a mortgage lender must follow in order to foreclose on a property in Illinois. Under the code “’to foreclose’ means to terminate legal and equitable interests in real estate pursuant to a foreclosure.” That process can be divided in seven basic categories for residential real estate: Default; Filing the Complaint; Service of process; Judgment of Foreclosure; Redemption Period; Judicial Sale; Confirmation.
The first category is default. Default occurs when a homeowner (Mortgagor) violates a term of the promissory note or mortgage agreement. Most often, default occurs when the homeowner fails to make timely payments. But, default can occur for a variety of reasons. For example, failure to pay property taxes, keep insurance payments current, or deeding the property to another without the mortgage holder’s consent can all be considered a default of the loan terms. Usually, promissory notes and/or mortgages have acceleration clauses. An acceleration clause allows the lender to demand the full balance owed upon default.
The second category is filing the complaint. A complaint is the initial pleading in the foreclosure case. The foreclosure complaint lists allegations that, if true, entitle the plaintiff (the mortgage company) to foreclose. In Illinois, before a mortgage company can file a complaint to foreclose a mortgage with the court, it must first send a “notice advising the mortgagor that he or she may wish to seek approved housing counseling.” 1502.5. That notice must be sent at least 30 before filing the complaint. The foreclosure complaint must substantially follow a form set out in the IMFL.
The third category is service of process. Once the foreclosure complaint is filed, the summons, complaint, and notice must be delivered to the homeowner (mortgagor). Proper service of process gives the court jurisdiction over the defendant. Without jurisdiction the court’s orders are void. In Illinois there are several acceptable methods of service of process. The complaint can be handed directly to the homeowner (personal service), or to a person at least 13 years old who resides with the homeowner (substitute service). In some cases, when personal and substitute service have been unsuccessful, the court may allow the complaint to be served by publication. Service by publication allows the mortgage company to place a notice in a newspaper, rather than handing a copy of the complaint to someone. To complete service, a copy of the publication must be mailed to the homeowner.
The fourth category is Judgment of Foreclosure. Judgment of Foreclosure is the court’s order (decision) that permits a judicial sale of the property to occur after the redemption period. Redemption, the fifth category, is the right to pay the full balance owed in order to avoid judicial sale. In Illinois the redemption period ends 7 months from the date of service, or 3 months from the date of entry of a judgment of foreclosure, whichever date will give the homeowner the most time.
The sixth category is judicial sale. A judicial sale is the method used to enforce a judgment of foreclosure. The sale is an auction conducted by a party authorized by the court. The judicial sale must be preceded by a notice of sale. The notice of sale must be published at least 3 consecutive calendar weeks, on in each week, the first such notice to be published not more than 45 days prior to sale, the last such notice to be published not less than 7 days prior to the sale.” The mortgage company is often, but not always, the purchaser at the judicial sale.
The final category is confirmation of the sale. In Illinois, the sale is not complete until the Judge confirms the sale. Generally, the confirmation hearing occurs about 30 – 90 days from the date of the sale. The buyer gains possession of the property 30 days from the date the sale is confirmed by the court.
How long the foreclosure process takes, usually depends on what the homeowner does. So if you are facing foreclosure, you should take action. You need an attorney to help you sort through your options and choose the best remedy. Never hire a firm to help you with your foreclosure unless the firm is experienced in helping homeowner with all the possible remedies, loan modification, short-sales, deed-in-lieu, consent foreclosures, and bankruptcy. Before you do anything, you should give me a call. We can discuss your all your options. Opem Tax Resolutions & The Law Office of Steven A. Leahy, PC (312) 664-6649. Call NOW to set up your FREE Consultation.