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Don't Ignore The Foreclosure Case

If you are served with a copy of a foreclosure complaint, the worst thing you can do is to ignore it.  If you do nothing, the court will assume you don’t have any objection to the bank taking your house and that is exactly what will happen.

After you receive the court papers, you have only 28 days to oppose the foreclosure by filing an “Answer.”  There are instructions about filing the Answer with the Clerk of Courts Office on the court summons that came with the foreclosure papers.  The Answer is only the first step in a case that can take months.  If you have an attorney, this will be part of his or her job.  But if the Answer is not filed within 28 days from the day you received the foreclosure complaint, then the bank will automatically win the case.  For more information see the Foreclosure Process and Timeline page.

Although you are allowed to represent yourself in court, called "pro se" representation, foreclosure defense is very complicated and your chances of success will be much better with an attorney.  A foreclosure is a serious lawsuit involving both your house and tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The bank will have an attorney to represent its interest.  It is not the job of the bank's attorney to watch out for your interests in the case.  You need your own lawyer.

If you cannot afford an attorney call 1-866-Law-Ohio or visit OhioLegalServices.org for your closest legal aid office.  If you are not able to obtain a lawyer, you can file an Answer yourself.  See the right sidebar on this page for more information.  Make sure you file copies of your Answer with the Clerk of Courts Office and the bank’s lawyer and that you keep a copy for yourself.  See How to Complete and File Your Answer or Motion (pdf) for more information.

Don't Move Out - Stay As Long As You Can

Even after you are served with a foreclosure complaint, the house remains legally yours until after it is sold at sheriff's sale.  This means you continue to be legally responsible for the house.  It is difficult to maintain a house you do not live in.  If the house looks abandoned, uncut grass, no lights on, etc. it easily becomes a target for copper thieves and vandals.  Moreover, if you stopped paying the mortgage, the cost of maintaining the house will probably be less than what you would pay for a new place. 

Sometimes after months of foreclosure proceedings, the house does not sell at the sheriff's sale and the house remains in your name even longer.  It is best for all parties, even the bank, to have someone living in the house, protecting and maintaining it, until it is turned over to the next owner.  For more information see this six minute video, Homeowner Responsibilities After The Foreclosure Is Filed - A Video
, in which Ohio Poverty Law Center Senior Attorney Linda Cook explains your obligations as a homeowner when losing your home in foreclosure and how to know when you need to move out of your home.

Foreclosure Self-Help

Foreclosure Self-Help Forms

To help low-income Ohioans unable to retain legal counsel, the Ohio Poverty Law Center has created several forms that homeowners can complete and file in their foreclosure cases.  The links listed below to the foreclosure forms are completed through a self-guided interview process that enables immediate, easy, 24/7 access at no cost to low-income Ohioans who have no legal representation in their foreclosure actions. 

These forms are created by an online application that prompts Ohioans to answer questions with the information needed to create these legal documents.  Using these online templates, an individual is guided through an “interview session” and responds to a series of questions regarding her own situation.  After completing this information, a personalized foreclosure pleading or motion is produced that can be saved and printed.  The final form also includes instructions for signing and filing the document with the court.


This website provides general legal information and not legal advice.  The law is complex and changes frequently. 
Before you apply any general legal information to a particular situation, consult an attorney. 
If you cannot afford an attorney call 1-866-Law-Ohio (1-866-529-6446) or visit OhioLegalHelp.org for your closest legal aid office.