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An Explanation of Legal Documents in a Foreclosure Action

Posted by Melvin Monachan | Jan 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

If you have been served with a foreclosure action in New York, you may be overwhelmed by the paperwork that you have received. Understanding what each document is, along with whether you need to respond to the document, is the first step toward defending against the foreclosure action. Melvin Monachan is dedicated to helping those who are in the midst of foreclosure understand their rights and obtain the legal representation they need.

Documents in a Foreclosure Action

Although foreclosure actions can vary depending on the specific circumstances in your case, all foreclosure actions will contain three key documents: the summons, the complaint, and the lis pendens.


The first document in a foreclosure action's package is generally the summons. This document provides a party with legal notice that a lawsuit is pending against the person. Many individuals only learn of the foreclosure action pending against them when they receive the summons. The summons will also tell the individual served that he or she is a defendant in the foreclosure action and that he or she must respond to the complaint served with the summons.


A complaint is a formal legal document created on behalf of the lender. This document set out the facts leading up to the action (including when the note and mortgage were signed) along with why the lender believes that it is entitled to foreclose upon your property. Generally, the complaint's reasoning is that you have not made your mortgage payments as promised in the note.

A person being sued in a foreclosure action must respond to a complaint in the form of an "answer." This document will set out the party's own version of the facts, admit or deny each of the allegations in the complaint, and assert any defenses or counterclaims that the person may have against the institution bringing the foreclosure action. If a person fails to file a proper answer with the court, he or she can be held in default, which essentially means that the bank "wins."

Lis Pendens

A list pendens, which is Latin for "suit pending," is recorded with the county in which the property is located and puts the public on notice that a lawsuit involving the subject property is pending. For purposes of foreclosure, a lis pendens is generally a short document that provides the legal description of the property and advises that a foreclosure action has commenced against the property owner.

Facing Foreclosure in New York? We Can Help

If you are a New York resident who has been served with a foreclosure action, it's critical to seek the help of a seasoned foreclosure defense attorney as soon as possible after being served. Strict time limits must be met when responding to the legal documents, and failure to do so in a timely manner can have a negative impact on your case. The Law Offices of Melvin Monachan, PLLC is committed to providing quality and compassionate representation by taking the stress of a foreclosure action off of your shoulders. To speak with a member of our legal team about your case today, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (516) 714-5763 today.

About the Author

Melvin Monachan

Melvin Monachan is the founder of The Law Office of Melvin Monachan, PLLC, a full service, real estate law firm representing individuals, investors and corporate entities in all aspects of real estate law. On the transactional side, Melvin represents purchasers and...


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