On June 10th, 2020, effective on August 4th, 2020, Washington County in Pennsylvania will allow defendants to seek a 90-day stay in mortgage foreclosure actions. This 90-day stay is available only to defendants who attend a free foreclosure mitigation counseling session. The counseling session must be attended within 20 days of being served with a complaint and the defendant must make an application for the stay. The counseling sessions will be held every Thursday at 10:00 am at the Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services office. If a defendant fails to appear for the counseling session, the 90-day stay will not be approved and, if a defendant does not respond to the complaint, a default judgment may be entered.
The purpose of the stay is to permit defendants an opportunity to work with lenders, and to help facilitate an agreement to settle the proceedings.
What this means for lenders and plaintiffs:
- Plaintiffs are required to include specific language in their complaints to notify defendants of this option. A sample of this notice is found below.
- If defendants seek and attend the free counseling session, upon application all matters are stayed for 90 days.
- Upon the expiration of the 90-day stay, if a matter has not been resolved, a defendant has 20 days in which to file a response to the complaint.
- If a defendant does not seek the 90-day stay or fails to appear for the counseling session, the defendant does not get the 90-day stay, and the plaintiff is able to proceed for a default judgment in accordance with the civil rules of procedure.
As stated above, it is mandatory for a notice to be included in the complaint. Rule 1143 specifically provides “the complaint shall include a “Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program Notice.”
The below sample of the Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program Notice must be included in the complaint for mortgage foreclosure.
IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF WASHINGTON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA CIVIL DIVISION
MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE DIVERSION PROGRAM NOTICE
You have been sued in court to foreclose upon the mortgage associated with your home.
You are notified that you may seek a 90-day stay in this mortgage foreclosure action if you attend a free Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling session within 20 days of being served with the complaint in this action and this notice, and make application for the stay. The purpose of this stay is to permit you an opportunity to work with the lender/plaintiff to reach an agreement to settle this proceeding. The Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling sessions are held every Thursday at 10:00 a.m., at the Southwestern PA Legal Services’ office located next to the Washington County Courthouse at 10 West Cherry Avenue, Washington, PA 15301.
If you fail to appear for this free Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling session, you will not receive a 90-day stay of these proceedings and if you do not respond to the complaint, a default judgment may be entered.
YOU SHOULD STRONGLY CONSIDER ATTENDING A FORECLOSURE MITIGATION COUNSELING SESSION. THESE SESSIONS WILL BE CONDUCTED BY A REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA LEGAL SERVICES. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO SEEK ASSISTANCE FROM A LEGAL PROFESSIONAL AT THE FORECLOSURE MITIGATION COUNSELING SESSION.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS MATTER, YOU MAY HAVE THEM ADDRESSED AT THE FORECLOSURE MITIGATION COUNSELING SESSION, OR YOU MAY CONTACT SOUTHWESTERN PA LEGAL SERVICES AT:
10 WEST CHERRY AVENUE
WASHINGTON, PA 15301
TOLL FREE: 1-800-846-0871
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990
The Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pennsylvania is required by law to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. For information about accessible facilities and reasonable accommodations available to disabled individuals having business before the Court, please contact our office. All arrangements must be made at least 72 hours prior to any hearing.
This blog is not a solicitation for business and it is not intended to constitute legal advice on specific matters, create an attorney-client relationship or be legally binding in any way.
- (b) If the defendant completes the Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling session, the Court shall enter a 90-day stay upon application of the defendant.
- (c) At the expiration of the 90-day stay, the defendant shall have twenty (20) days in which to take action by entering a written appearance personally or by an attorney and filing in writing with the court his or her defenses or objections to the claims set forth against him or her; provided, however, that if the defendant is served outside the United States the defendant shall have sixty (60) days in which to respond.