As was discussed in depth in a Client Memo sent earlier this year, the new Expedited Foreclosure Process took effect in New Jersey on April 1, 2013. This process, which permits Plaintiffs in foreclosure actions to proceed summarily, was expected to dramatically cut foreclosure timelines for vacant and abandoned properties. While the process has only been available for just over six months, we received our first set of signed expedited judgments and can now more accurately evaluate the process and its shorter time-frame. (For a more detailed discussion of the process, its prerequisites and benefits, please read our client memo.)
In general, it appears that an easy expedited action can be brought from complaint to judgment within a three to four month timeframe. The following would be a nearly ideal expedited timeline:
Day 1 – File Complaint
Day 3 – File Order to Show Cause
Day 24 – Receive signed Order to Show Cause with a Day 70 Return Date
Day 38 – Complete Service of Process as directed by the Order to Show Cause
Day 70 – Judge marks the Order to Show Cause fully submitted
Day 90 – Receive signed Order and Writ of Execution
In most situations, a four to five month time frame is far more likely. There are numerous aspects of a matter that can lead to a longer time frame. Most notably, we have experienced the following two recurring issues in the majority of our expedited cases:
(1) Delays in completing Service of Process. Within the Order to Show Cause, the Judge enforces strict service of process requirements. Generally, Plaintiff is given approximately twenty (20) days to complete service upon all defendants. This is an incredibly short time frame considering that the mortgagors do not occupy the mortgaged premises and many times will need to be served via publication. In situations where the homeowner is deceased or missing altogether, use of the Expedited Process can actually slow the action down dramatically.
(2) Communication Issues with the Court. Not only is this process new to the attorneys commencing expedited actions, it is new to the court and the Office of Foreclosure. The primary obstacle we have encountered is receiving the actual signed Order to Show Cause from the court. This is especially troublesome considering the short service of process deadline. A copy is not sent to Plaintiff’s counsel upon its submission to JEFIS and in many situations we have had to check JEFIS daily on all of our expedited matters.
Overall, it appears that the Expedited Process is an efficient foreclosure mechanism when used properly in the right situation. That being said, despite its speed, it is not universally an ideal option where the property is vacant and abandoned.
Written By: Adam J. Friedman, Esq.