RUTGERS LAW MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE CLINIC
Providing legal assistance and representation to low and moderate-income homeowners in Southern New Jersey who are at risk of losing their home in foreclosure.
The Rutgers Law Mortgage Foreclosure Clinic (MFC) provides legal assistance and representation to low and moderate-income homeowners in Southern New Jersey who are at risk of losing their homes in foreclosure. The types of assistance provided by the Mortgage Foreclosure Clinic includes:
meeting clients for limited consultation and providing information about the foreclosure process, including the time-frame for foreclosure, Sheriff’s Sale, and ejectment following Sheriff’s Sale;
filing motions to postpone Sheriff’s Sale or ejectment following Sheriff’s Sale;
preparing applications for mortgage modification mediation through the Court and representing that client throughout the modification process, including at mediation;
assisting clients with mortgage modification applications to the mortgage company, bank, or loan servicing company;
evaluating matters to determine if there are valid defenses to a foreclosure Complaint and, if so, preparing an Answer to the foreclosure Complaint and representing the homeowner in litigation;
providing representation on an appeal of a final judgment of foreclosure.
Legal assistance and representation is provided by law students acting under the supervision of a licensed attorney.
The Mortgage Foreclosure Clinic accepts a limited number of cases during the academic year (mid-August to April).
If you need legal services, call the clinic at (856) 225-6568
If you are interested in finding out if the Mortgage Foreclosure Clinic might be able to help you in your foreclosure matter, please call (856) 225-6568 and leave a message. Someone will return your call during the hours of 9 am and 4 pm, usually within 2 business days of your phone call. Please include in your message whether it is alright to leave a message at your phone number.
Clarifi: a HUD-certified financial counseling agency authorized by the State of New Jersey to assist homeowners seeking to modify their mortgage, including through Court-ordered mediation.
Community Health Law Project: provides legal assistance to low-income individuals in Southern New Jersey living with disabilities.
South Jersey Legal Services: provides legal assistance to low-income individuals in a variety of matters.
Rutgers Law Mortgage Foreclosure Project Assists in Saving New Jersey Residents from Losing their Homes
People struggling to make their mortgage payments in New Jersey lose their homes to foreclosure more than residents of any other state in the nation.
Now, a Rutgers University–Camden law professor and her students are working to help residents avoid losing their homes to foreclosure.
Approximately 95 percent of homeowners facing foreclosure do not have legal representation when they go to court to try to keep their homes, according to Anne Mallgrave, the director of the Rutgers Law Mortgage Foreclosure Project.
Professor Anne Mallgrave
Professor Mallgrave says homeowners in foreclosure proceedings can take action to remain in their homes.
“They don’t understand the terminology, they don’t understand the law, they don’t understand the process,” explains Mallgrave. “I’ve had conversations with homeowners over the past few years where they had a valid defense to the foreclosure action, but they were trying to represent themselves and didn’t know how to make that argument, it just wasn’t heard, and their homes and have been foreclosed on.”
Mallgrave says that, in many situations, the reasons people fall behind on paying their mortgage is because they are suffering from an illness or an accident, or lose their job.
New Jersey is at the top in home foreclosures with a rate of one in every 1,043 houses in the state being lost to foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac, a company that tracks and offers an online marketplace for foreclosures and defaulted properties in the United States.
RealtyTrac reports that four of the five counties with the highest foreclosure rates in the state are in South Jersey – Burlington, with one in every 627 houses in foreclosure, Camden with one in 641, Cumberland with one in 376, Gloucester with one in 544, and Salem with one in 460.
While New Jersey homeowners in foreclosure proceedings can take action to stay in their homes, many people do not know about the process. Through the state’s court-assisted mediation program re-implemented last year, homeowners can request a modification to their mortgages and keep their houses.
Mallgrave has worked with homeowners who have not applied for mediation because they do not understand the papers they receive to notify them of the option of mediation. Some people are not receiving any information despite a law requiring plaintiffs’ attorneys to provide it.
Mallgrave says that 25 to 40 mediations are scheduled monthly for foreclosure cases in Camden County, and approximately 90 percent of homeowners in the cases do not have an attorney to represent them and guide them through the process.
“While they are going through the process, the foreclosure action continues to move on,” says Mallgrave. “If the homeowners haven’t filed an answer to the complaint, it moves on very quickly, and before they know it, in some cases, their home is listed for sheriff’s sale as they are still trying to negotiate a modification.”
Under Mallgrave’s guidance, Rutgers Law students participating in the Mortgage Foreclosure Project receive wide-ranging experience in serving as attorneys for their clients.
Students conduct legal research; interview clients; counsel clients about their options; and prepare documents and briefs that are filed in court.
In New Jersey, third-year law students are permitted to be certified to practice law and are allowed to represent a client at a mediation hearing.
Law School student Ken Conkin
“It is very rewarding to work with clients, not just from a legal perspective but also from a personal perspective,” says Ken Conklin, a Rutgers–Camden law student from Mount Laurel.
“Sometimes navigating the procedures surrounding a foreclosure action can be both frustrating and intimidating for non-lawyers, and at times all it takes to improve our client’s state of well-being is simply for them to feel heard.”
Mallgrave says she and the students are very passionate about helping homeowners avoid foreclosure because it involves more than a house or the money owed on the mortgage.
“It could be an elderly client who has lived in a home for 35 years and doesn’t know what to do, or where to go, if the home is lost. It also could be a family with young children who haven’t told their children that their home is in foreclosure, and they are looking at being evicted. For the kids, it’s their home, their school, their community, the neighborhood, their friends. It’s a very important piece of their family and community.”
The program, launched in 2017, is funded by a grant from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation.
Eventually, Mallgrave hopes to expand the program by developing a community education program in South Jersey to provide information to help homeowners understand and navigate the foreclosure process.
“We’re just trying to level the playing field from the get-go,” says Mallgrave. “The lack of understanding and the lack of information has a huge impact for homeowners on whether or not they are going to be able to save their home from foreclosure.”
The US Supreme Court has stated; “the judiciary’s authority…depends in large measure on the public’s willingness to respect and follow its decisions.” Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, 575 U.S. 433, 445-446 (2015). https://t.co/UYPF2FNzCE pic.twitter.com/dDUajHTZV9
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