New Rules Give Homeowners 15 Days to Fight Foreclosure

Blue HouseOwning a home is the cornerstone of the American dream. However, that dream has become a nightmare for many Maryland families: in the fi rst four months of 2009, there were 9,289 property foreclosures across the state, according to a recent housing report. In addition, many consumers desperate to keep their homes fall prey to mortgage fraud.

The Court of Appeals has approved new foreclosure procedure rules that require lenders to notify a homeowner and any guarantor when a foreclosure action has been fi led. The owner and the guarantor, upon receiving notice, will have 15 days to fi le a motion in Circuit Court to stay or dismiss the foreclosure action. The rules took effect May 1.

The new Rules, and in particular, Rule 14-211, give the owners and guarantors “a fair opportunity” to raise a valid defense to the foreclosure while preventing them from fi ling “frivolous” motions to delay the process, said retired Judge Alan M. Wilner, chair of the Rules Committee, which proposed the change. The Rules Committee is formally known as the Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure. Members of the legal community have also stepped up their efforts to help through a statewide Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project, in which more than 700 lawyers have volunteered their time to help distressed homeowners in need of legal assistance.

Families and individuals facing the possibility of foreclosure should visit the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development at http:// www.mdhousing.org for assistance.