First Mistake When Sued For Ejectment In Alabama After A Foreclosure
THE FIRST MISTAKE SO OFTEN MADE BY ALABAMA CONSUMERS WHEN SUED FOR EJECTMENT AFTER FORECLOSURE
This article will expand upon the first common mistake and it is taken from our book that describes the FIVE MOST COMMON MISTAKES ALABAMA CONSUMERS MAKE WHEN SUED FOR EJECTMENT.
You can get a free copy by calling us at 205-879-2447 or letting us know through our online form.
The first and most critical mistake is true of any type of lawsuit that is filed. We see this all the time in collection lawsuits where the debt collectors or debt buyers will file suit against somebody.
From 70% up to 90% of people simply do not respond. They do not answer the lawsuit. They don’t think about it, or they think there’s nothing they can do. Whatever the case, they do nothing and the court enters what’s called a “default judgment.” A default judgment means we lose automatically.
The same is true of these ejectment actions. Most people simply don’t answer the lawsuit (complaint).
When I say “answer,” I mean to file a response in court where you deny or challenge the allegations of the plaintiff. The plaintiff is the mortgage company. They’ll say, “You fell behind. We properly foreclosed and properly bought the house, and now we want to kick you out.” If those things are not true, you want to deny or challenge the allegations.
Normally in an ejectment lawsuit, you have 30 days to answer from the time you’re served. “Served” means you received certified mail or somebody handed it to you or to an adult living in your house. When you get that piece of paper, that lawsuit or complaint, the clock starts running. If there’s any doubt about when that clock started to run, call the court.
There’s a clerk’s office in every county in Alabama. You can call the court and say, “This is my name. Does the court show me being served? When does it show me being served?” Then you’ll know what the time limit is.
When you go beyond 30 days, these companies will file a motion for default judgment. They say to the court, “We sued this person and they didn’t respond. What we’re saying about them must be true.” That’s why it’s so critical to answer.
If they file that motion for default judgment and the court enters the judgment against you, it means the court has determined that this was a proper foreclosure and you are supposed to be ejected, evicted or kicked out of your home. The next thing that happens is the sheriff comes and helps you get out of the home.
What we have often is an improper foreclosure. The people never should have been ejected or evicted from their home, but they did not answer the ejectment lawsuit. Then they want to go back later and explain to the court why it was a wrongful foreclosure and why the ejectment should not have been granted, but in court there are certain time limits.
If we don’t respond, there are bad consequences. One of those consequences is that the court will say, “I made my ruling.” It’s very difficult to get the court to undo a default judgment, particularly when we know that we were served with a lawsuit and we just chose not to answer it.
That is by far the biggest mistake we see made in ejectment lawsuits – simply not answering it.
One reason people don’t respond is they’re in a state of denial. “This can’t be happening! I can’t be losing my home.” Maybe this is where their children have been or are being raised or it’s their dream home. Whatever it may be, people sometimes say, “I refuse to believe this is happening. I refuse to believe a judge would actually rule against me.”
If we don’t answer, if we don’t follow the rules of the court, the judge doesn’t have a choice. He or she has got to rule against us.
This is the biggest mistake. If you get nothing else out of this article, remember this: Answer the lawsuit.
Go meet with a lawyer. If you’re in Alabama, you can meet with us, or you can meet with other lawyers that you find that do this type of work. If you’re somewhere else, go to www.NACA.net. It has a place to find an attorney in your hometown.
Do something. File a response to that lawsuit so you don’t automatically lose.
Think about any big game – the Iron Bowl, for example. We have two teams. One team will win. Maybe if they played again the next week the other team would win. Who knows? But I do know this: If one team doesn’t show up to the game, they lose.
I spend a lot of time on this because I really want to try to hammer this point home. We must respond to the complaint. Don’t make that critical mistake of failing to respond. Instead, respond to the lawsuit and at least you have a chance in your case when you do that.
In our next article we’ll talk about the second critical mistake – assuming that there is nothing that can be done after the foreclosure sale.
Let us know if we can answer any questions you have about an Alabama foreclosure or ejectment lawsuit – call us at 205-879-2447 or through our website contact form.