The New Jersey eviction moratorium expired on November 15, 2021. What does that mean for New Jersey homeowners who have had foreclosure judgments against them?
At the start of the pandemic, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 106 which halted all evictions in the state. That Order had the effect of also halting all foreclosure sales. The federal government separately issued a foreclosure moratorium on nearly all foreclosures in the entire country, but that was partially lifted at the end of September 2021.
For New Jersey homeowners, as of Monday, November 15, 2021, we are without the protections of Executive Order 106 and foreclosure evictions can recommence. That means that the sheriff offices in each county are going back to processing sales on pending foreclosure actions.
The commencement of new foreclosure filings is still effectively on hold because of the federal government action to limit the rights of mortgage servicers to start a filing. Those limitations will fully expire on January 1, 2022. So for right now, the concern people face is the listing of the home for a foreclosure sale, rather than the commencement of a new foreclosure action.
Can the Bank Sell My Home Now That the Eviction Moratorium Has Ended?
In order for a bank to sell a house in foreclosure, the bank has to file suit and obtain a final judgment, and also obtain a document called a ‘Writ of Execution’ which the bank gives to the County Sheriff who is then authorized to sell the property through the process set up by each county for the sales. Those Writs expire after two years.
Two years have passed since the majority of the Writs were issued. That means that for everyone who had a judgment and a Writ entered against them at the start of the pandemic, and the issuance of Executive Order 106, the Writ has expired.
It is illegal for a Sheriff department to auction a home without a valid Writ. It is not difficult for the plaintiff bank to obtain a new Writ, but they have to file a motion to the Judge asking the Judge to issue it anew.
It is worth having those motions to renew the Writ reviewed by a competent attorney because banks do make mistakes, often with regard to your attempts to negotiate a modification or other settlement with the bank during the moratorium.
These motions take about a month to be resolved, start to finish, and once that Plaintiff has an active and unexpired Writ in the Sheriff’s hands then it is up to the County Sheriff to determine in what order the sales will be conducted.
What You Need to Know About Your County Sales Listings
There is a massive backlog of sheriff listings for the auctioning of homes in foreclosure. Massive. Tens and tens of thousands.
Each county sheriff department holds foreclosure sales slightly differently, but the general expectation is that the sheriff’s department in each county will list each home for auction in the date order in which the Writ was obtained.
Here is where it gets tricky: Will the Sheriff in each county consider the date of the Writ to be the date of the original Writ, or the date of the new, updated Writ obtained by the Judge on motion by the bank after the original writ had expired? The only people who know the answer to that question are the county sheriffs. As far as I am aware, they are not talking because they are absolutely swamped getting their organizations ready for an onslaught of foreclosure sales.
For homeowners whose Writ has expired this is an intensely important question. It could be the difference in months or even more than a year in the home prior to the home going up on auction. The advice I give people who need answers as to when their property will likely be up for sale is this: Watch your county sales listings.
I have listed each county’s sales listing page for easy reference:
- Atlantic County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=25
- Bergen County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=7
- Burlington County: https://www.co.burlington.nj.us/1181/Foreclosure-Sheriffs-Sale
- Camden County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=1
- Cape May County: http://www.cmcsheriff.net/auctions.htm
- Cumberland County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=6
- Essex County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=2
- Gloucester County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=19
- Hudson County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=10
- Hunterdon County: https://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/sheriff/sales.htm
- Mercer County: https://www.mercercounty.org/home/showpublisheddocument/15431/6377103
- Middlesex County: http://www.middlesexcountynj.gov/government/departments/psh/pages/forec
- Monmouth County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=8
- Morris County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=9
- Passaic County: https://salesweb.civilview.com/Sales/SalesSearch?countyId=17
- Ocean County: https://co.ocean.nj.us/WebContentFiles/3ec14ac4-25a1-41cd-8c8b-d9996a9
- Salem County: https://www.salemcountysheriff.com/sheriff-sales/
- Somerset County: https://www.co.somerset.nj.us/government/elected-officials/sheriff-s-office/div
- Sussex County: http://www.sussexcountysheriff.com/sales/
If you notice, some of these links go directly to the sales listings in each county and others, Burlington County for instance, link to the sheriff department’s website. The reason for this is because some of the sheriff departments are so overwhelmed that they are unable to properly maintain their public listings of sales. This is likely going to be a very large problem for foreclosing banks who try to sell homes at auction without proper notice to homeowners.
Next Steps To Defend Your Home Against Foreclosure
If you cannot find information online as to your county sales listings, either through these links or elsewhere, please reach out and speak to a foreclosure defense lawyer in New Jersey. You are entitled to notice of the date of the sheriff’s auction of your home.
- Use your two 30 days adjournments of the sale, simply by asking for them. The sheriff department is supposed to track this information, and they do, but it is often difficult to find someone at the department who is willing or able to give you your information on the phone. Keep track of your adjournments and fight back if anyone incorrectly denies you your right to delay the sale by a full 60 days.
- When appropriate – and this should be determined with the help of an expert – use the loan modification process and the federal regulations government review of loss mitigation applications by mortgage servicers to your advantage.
Most importantly, educate yourself as to how the system works and reach out to competent experts for advice. What is most important to families facing foreclosure is that you know how the system works and what your rights are. Once you know your options, you are free to take back control of the decisions you are going to make.
If you are a homeowner wanting to learn more about how you can save your home from foreclosure after the end of the NJ moratorium, contact Joshua Denbeaux today for a free consultation.