FREE Mortgage Foreclosure Legal Consultation Clinics
Nassau residents caught in the growing mortgage foreclosure crisis can have their questions answered by attorneys at a free clinic at the Nassau County Bar Association at the NCBA headquarters, 15th and West Streets, Mineola, NY funded in part through the NYS Attorney General Homeownership Protection Program. Attorneys have volunteered to provide one-on-one guidance, advice and direction to any Nassau County homeowner who is concerned about foreclosure matters or is already in the foreclosure process involving property in Nassau County.
Attorneys have volunteered to review individual foreclosure issues with Nassau homeowners, help them sort things out, and give advice or refer them to agencies and programs, right in the same room, that may be able to help. This is not legal representation. The attorneys will help the homeowner find out if indeed, they need a credit counselor or a lawyer, and get them in touch with available resources.
In addition to meeting one-on-one with a volunteer attorney, housing counselors, bankruptcy attorneys and representatives from Nassau/Suffolk Law Services and New York Legal Assistance (NYLAG) -- which provides free legal services for those who meet certain income guidelines -- are on hand to provide assistance.
→ Reservations are required by calling the Bar Association at 516-747-4070. Please bring your mortgage documents. Attorneys fluent in other languages are available upon request when reserving.
All clinics are 3-6 p.m. and are held at the Nassau County Bar Association in Mineola twice a month. Call for next scheduled clinic.
Court Mandated Settlement Conferences
The Nassau County Bar Association provides attorneys to represent you in court the day of your appearance FOR FREE, and are available to answer your questions at a table in the rear of the courtroom.
→ For more information, contact Gale D. Berg, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org, 516-747-4070.
Mortgage Foreclosure Information for Homeowners
A. The Steps of Foreclosure
Notice of Default/Notice of Delinquency - Letter stating how far behind you are in making payments and how to restore your mortgage loan to a current status. These letters should be treated with urgency, and upon receipt of either, you must respond and you should try to take corrective action.
Notice of Acceleration - Letter giving you the opportunity to satisfy the loan balance in full to prevent foreclosure. It is the official notice from the lender declaring that it wants to terminate the mortgage loan and that it intends to take ownership of your home unless you can pay the entire loan balance in full.
Foreclosure Case Initiated - The lender files a summons and complaint with the court. The summons and complaint are served on the borrower and the borrower then has 20 days to answer if served in person and 30 days if served by mail.
Answer - A written response to the complaint is called an Answer and must be submitted by the borrower to the lender’s attorney, and filed with the court. It is due 20 calendar days from the date of service if the borrower is served in person, or 30 days if he is served by mail. It can be submitted with an attorney's help or without, if you are representing yourself (pro se). The answer contains defenses to the foreclosure and may include counterclaims. If the borrower does not answer, he will default in the foreclosure case, which means the lender wins.
Mandatory Settlement Conferences - This is the last step at which volunteer clinic and conference attorneys offer assistance. The court must hold a settlement conference within 60 days of when proof of service of the foreclosure action is filed with the county clerk.
B. What are your options?
Loan Modifications - Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) (new or old mortgages). Email email@example.com or call 866-939-4469.
Deed in lieu of foreclosure - Allows the borrower to voluntarily turn over the property deed to the lender. In exchange, the borrower can walk away from the property without a deficiency judgment and without a foreclosure sale on his credit report. The owner will not owe any additional debt.
Short sale - The lender may agree to this if the amount due on the loan is more than the value of the property. The homeowner sells the property to a third party at a fair market value and the lender agrees to accept less than the full balance due in satisfaction of a loan. (This option may have tax consequences.)
Bankruptcy - To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must earn less than a certain amount of money per year. Filing this petition will automatically suspend all existing legal actions and can forestall foreclosure. Once a court declares a party bankrupt, that party cannot file for bankruptcy again for 8 years from the date the bankruptcy petition is filed. Other types of bankruptcy such as Chapter 13, which is a repayment plan has other requirements. It is recommended you consult with a bankruptcy attorney.
→If you need legal representation, contact the Nassau County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service, 516-747-4832.
C. Frequently Asked Questions
Can an attorney at the foreclosure clinic represent me in court?
NO, the attorneys at the foreclosure clinic are available to provide free advice to homeowners but cannot be retained as personal or private legal counsel. No attorney at the NCBA clinics should charge you a fee.
Where can I seek permanent representation?
Call the Nassau County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at (516) 747-4832. Professional counselors will provide several references. In addition, we work hand in hand with other agencies which may be able to provide free representation depending on eligibility determined at one of our clinics.
How do I avoid fraud or know if I have been a victim of a loan modification scam?
You should never:
Be on alert if a company or person:
- Be charged a fee in exchange for housing counseling services,
- Be charged an up-front fee for services related to the modification of a delinquent loan, or
- Be pressured into signing paperwork you do not understand.
- Asks for a fee in advance to work with your lender to modify, refinance or reinstate your mortgage.
- Guarantees they can stop a foreclosure or get your loan modified.
- Advises you to stop paying your mortgage company and pay them instead.
- Pressures you to sign over the deed to your home or sign any paperwork that you haven’t had a chance to read or that you don’t fully understand.
- Claims to offer “government-approved” or “official government” loan modifications.
- Asks you to release personal financial information online or over the phone.
→If you believe you have been a part of a foreclosure scam, report it immediately at www.preventloanscams.org and click “Report A Scam!”