How Long Can I Stay in My House if I Stop Paying?

Mortgage Foreclosure

How long can you usually stay in your house if you stop paying your mortgage? This most simple answer is 8 to 10 months. You can usually stay in your house for 8 to 10 months for free after you stop paying on the mortgage. Sometimes this amount of time can even be longer, ranging up to 2 to 3 years.

The Mortgage Foreclosure Action Will Come

After about 3 to 5 months, you will usually receive a lawsuit at your residence called a Mortgage Foreclosure action. This Mortgage Foreclosure lawsuit will be asking your state court to start the legal process of taking your home back. You will receive the mortgage foreclosure complaint and summons. The instructions will usually explain that you will have about 20-30 days to make an “answer” with the court. You may also have the opportunity to ask for a settlement conference.

If you plan to keep your house or want to defend against the foreclosure, this is probably a good time to hire a local attorney. The attorney can help you answer the lawsuit and start settlement negotiations. Try to find an attorney that will work for a flat, upfront fee for the entire foreclosure defense. Getting an attorney can also add significantly to the amount of time you can stay in the house even if you are eventually unable to work out a deal. Remember, you can also file bankruptcy many times to either stop or slow down foreclosure proceedings and possibly save your house.

Stay in the House and Keep it Secure Until Sheriff Sale

If you stop paying on your house, you can many times stay there for a very long time for free. However, it is very important to keep living in the house and keep it secure. The mortgage company greatly prefers that you stay in the house and keep it secure. Stay there right up to the time that you let it go back to the lender or someone else during the sheriff sale.

The sheriff sale date will be set after the full mortgage foreclosure process is complete. Most states usually require that the creditor goes to the full judgment stage until they are even allowed to go back to the court to ask for a sheriff sale date. After the mortgage company asks for a sheriff sale, the date will usually be set out about 45-60 days giving you notice. You will need to be out of the house the day of the sheriff sale. Therefore, it would be wise to complete your moving the day before if possible.

Remember, although you were able to live in the home for “free” until sheriff sale, eventually the mortgage lender can come back and collect against you. If there was a deficiency on the mortgage after the sale, you would be liable for it in the future. The mortgage company could come back after you for the balance. Therefore, it may be wise to consider Chapter 7 or a settlement option after the mortgage foreclosure has come to completion.