If you are facing a pending mortgage foreclosure on your property or think you might be in the foreseeable future, you are likely trying to determine what help may be available. Negotiating with your mortgage holder or service provider, consulting an attorney, or dealing with real estate management companies may all be things you are thinking about. However, several Pennsylvania counties provide mortgage foreclosure assistance you may want to consider.
Due to the ongoing high foreclosure rates, now also greatly impacted by COVID-19, certain Pennsylvania counties have put mortgage foreclosure relief or diversion programs in place. While not all Pennsylvania counties have programs, this article will detail what counties have implemented them and how you can learn more about such programs.
Below are the Pennsylvania counties offering mortgage foreclosure assistance programs:
Allegheny County’s website includes a hotline and program overview.
Among the information provided are eligibility requirements and the agencies and participants of the program. Also, upon acceptance to the program and through the proper court and program proceedings, the mortgage foreclosure process can be put on hold until further program review is completed.
Housing Opportunities of Beaver County is a HUD certified housing counselor that operates in Beaver County. An appointment for assistance with the counselor must be made within 30 days of receiving a notice of intent to foreclose by your lender.
For further information, you can visit this website.
The Berks County website has several links for its diversion program on this website.
A response to the complaint of mortgage foreclosure and notice of the diversion program (which will be sent with the complaint detailing the rights and response needed to participate in the program) must be made with the county within 10 days.
Blair County’s program and Order enacting the program can be found on its website.
Once a homeowner receives a complaint of mortgage foreclosure, the Court will also order the lender or servicer of the lender to provide a diversion program notice and related documents. Once notice is served, a stay on proceedings will occur in which the homeowner has the option to attend a foreclosure diversion hearing.
Bucks County’s diversion program can be found on its website as well.
In Bucks County, a lender is required to file a notice of the program along with the mortgage foreclosure complaint indicating a homeowner may contact a hotline to initiate a conciliation conference.
Butler County has established a Consumer Credit/Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program which provides a court sanctioned opportunity to help borrowers. Contact information and a request for conciliation form can be found here.
Cumberland County’s website does not include a page with an overview of its diversion program. However, the actual Order of the diversion program can be viewed here.
Once a homeowner receives a mortgage foreclosure complaint and notice of the diversion program by the lender, all proceedings are stayed for 60 days from the date of service. However, the Order indicates it is only in effect until June 30, 2014. A hotline is also provided in the Order for further questions.
Delaware County’s website does not include a reference to a diversion program. However, the Urban Affairs Coalition, based in Philadelphia, released a 2017 edition of its mortgage foreclosure guide. The guide indicates Delaware County has a diversion program located on page 25. It further indicates that when a complaint for mortgage foreclosure is served, the homeowner receives written notice to call a hotline number for further assistance.
Fayette County’s website does not include a page with an overview of its diversion program. However, the actual Order of the diversion program can be viewed here.
Once a homeowner receives a complaint and notice of the diversion program by the lender, he or she must contact Southwestern PA Legal Services, Inc. within 20 days (as stated in the Order) to stay proceedings for 90 days.
Lackawanna County’s website does not include a page with an overview of its diversion program. However, Rule 1143.1 of Lackawanna County Rules of Civil Procedure outlines the basics of the diversion program (found on page 22 of the Rules).
Under the program, once a homeowner is served with the mortgage foreclosure complaint and notice of the program, he or she must contact the housing counselor as identified in the notice, request a conciliation conference and meet all timing deadlines described in the notice.
Lawrence County’s court administration page provides a link to the Order enacting its foreclosure conciliation program. The Order can be found here.
The Order indicates a homeowner will have the right to contact a housing opportunities counselor upon receiving the complaint of foreclosure and notice of the program.
Lehigh County’s diversion program can be found on its county website.
The program, on behalf of the court, schedules a conciliation conference for every case upon the filing of a complaint in mortgage foreclosure.
Luzerne County’s website includes a hotline and program overview.
Among the information provided are eligibility requirements. In addition, the homeowner must contact the county’s housing agency upon receipt of the foreclosure complaint and notice of the program.
Lycoming County’s website does not include a page with an overview of its diversion program. However, its court administration page provides a directory to the Lycoming Law Association, a non-profit association serving Lycoming County. The Association’s website shows the Order for Lycoming County’s foreclosure diversion program.
Once a homeowner receives a foreclosure complaint and notice of the diversion program by the lender, he or she must return the “Election to Participate” form to the District Court’s Administration Office within 10 days of receipt of the complaint, notice, and election.
Monroe County’s website includes a program overview.
Once a homeowner receives a foreclosure complaint and notice of the diversion program by the lender, he or she must return the “Certificate of Participation” form to the Monroe County Prothonotary Office. The actual notice indicates the Certificate must be returned “immediately” but does not elaborate on a timely return of the filings otherwise.
Montgomery County’s court administration page provides a link to its diversion program. The program is for actions filed on or after June 1, 2015.
Once a complaint is filed, an automatic stay of foreclosure proceedings is issued. A conference is then scheduled 5 to 6 weeks after the filing of the complaint.
Northampton County has a diversion program which can be found here.
The program requires all mortgage foreclosures of owner-occupied properties subject to execution be scheduled for a conciliation before the property is sold. Further program documents can be found on the county’s website.
Philadelphia County’s website includes a link to the diversion program here.
The link above provides a variety of information including a hotline to call for further assistance regarding the procedures and policies of the program.
Schuylkill County’s court administration page provides a link to its diversion program. The program can be found here.
Once a homeowner receives a mortgage foreclosure complaint and notice of the diversion program by the lender, he or she will need to contact Schuylkill Community Action per the contact information received in the notice to schedule an appointment.
Somerset County provides a link to the Order enacting its mortgage foreclosure conciliation program. The Order can be found here.
Once a homeowner receives a complaint and notice of the diversion program by the lender, he or she must contact Southwestern PA Legal Services, Inc. within 20 days (as stated in the Order) of service of the complaint.
Washington County’s website includes a page of local rules and forms, including its diversion program Notice.
The Notice indicates a homeowner may seek a 90-day stay in the foreclosure proceedings if he or she attends a counseling session within 20 days of being served with a complaint.
Below are the remaining Pennsylvania counties without information available regarding foreclosure diversion or assistance programs. However, you may still consider contacting your county courthouse for further inquiries.
Adams County – Armstrong County – Bedford County – Bradford County – Cambria County – Cameron County – Carbon County – Centre County – Chester County – Clarion County – Clearfield County – Clinton County – Columbia County – Crawford County – Dauphin County – Elk County – Erie County – Forest County – Franklin County – Fulton County – Greene County – Huntingdon County – Indiana County – Jefferson County – Juniata County – Lancaster County – Lebanon County – McKean County – Mercer County – Mifflin County – Montour County – Northumberland County – Perry County – Pike County – Potter County – Snyder County – Sullivan County – Susquehanna County – Tioga County – Union County – Venango County – Warren County – Wayne County – Westmoreland County – Wyoming County – York County
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
PHFA was created in 1972 to help homeowners across the state of Pennsylvania either afford housing or help those struggling to maintain home ownership. Further, the PHFA established the Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) in 1983. HEMAP is a loan program to prevent mortgage foreclosure which requires the homeowner to eventually repay the loan in a suitable timeframe. Further information and eligibility requirements (i. e. homeowner must have a reasonable prospect of paying the mortgage in full by maturity) can be found here.
Further, HUD provides a directory of counseling agencies that provide foreclosure relief which can be found here.
Why Hire an Attorney?
The mortgage foreclosure process is complex, time consuming, and can be difficult to understand. Many of the county programs listed above require quick action on the part of the homeowner to take advantage of the program. If a timing deadline is missed, you may have to seek alternative measures.
The counseling agencies listed above can be a good first step to receiving guidance on your situation. But you should keep in mind that Pennsylvania is a judicial foreclosure state, which requires the lender to foreclosure through the state court system. Therefore, you must know how and when to file necessary documents with the court, be aware of local rules of evidence, and be familiar with navigating the legal landscape regarding the foreclosure process. An attorney can be best suited when handling legal arguments related to this process.
Hiring an attorney as early as possible in the foreclosure process is crucial to manage the timeline of the case and explore viable foreclosure alternatives. Furthermore, banks and lenders will do what is in their best interest and may not present all options available to the homeowner. Therefore, retaining an attorney can ensure the lender follows all applicable laws and is put on notice that it cannot take advantage of the homeowner.
At Fenters Ward, we can manage and keep tract of the latest laws, case decisions and policies affecting the foreclosure market today. We will put your best interests ahead of our own and explore all possible options for you regarding the ownership of your home. If you are interested in retaining our services for mortgage foreclosure relief, fill out our contact form or call 877-259-WARD today to learn more about your options.
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