A recent article in the New York Law Journal discussed the possibility of public foreclosure defense services being in jeopardy due to government funding cuts. What does this mean for the homeowner whose home may be in danger of being foreclosed?
Homeowners who are having problems paying their existing mortgages may be in danger of having a foreclosure action brought against them. New York State currently provides public services to assist such parties. These agencies may provide legal advice on avoiding foreclosure, help with loan modifications and refinancing, and other financial services related to mortgages. Generally, these services may be provided free of charge by non-profit agencies, such as Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.
However, many of these agencies are overwhelmed by the demand for their services. As stated in the article, state budget cuts may result in these agencies being unable to provide assistance for all homeowners who may be at risk of foreclosure. What should these homeowners do in this situation? We would recommend hiring a private attorney with experience in defending foreclosure lawsuits. Prior blog posts have shown the various ways in which an experienced attorney can defend a foreclosure case in litigation. Even delaying a foreclosure action can buy a homeowner valuable time in which to negotiate a loan modification, obtain a refinance commitment, or even sell the property and pay off the mortgage, if there is sufficient equity.
Although our Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, has held that there is a right to counsel in a criminal prosecution, even if a party cannot afford an attorney, no such right exists in a foreclosure case, which is a civil, and not a criminal, matter. Therefore, in the absence of assistance from various government agencies, we recommend hiring an experienced attorney who can both litigate and negotiate with lender’s attorneys, and provide a satisfactory outcome for a homeowner.