Navigating the complexities of homeownership can be challenging, especially when facing financial hardships that threaten the security of your home. At a time when the thought of losing your home is a strong possibility, we want to provide you with the tools and insights necessary to make informed decisions. This could help you to secure your Massachusetts home, as well as your financial future. 

Foreclosure defense in Massachusetts involves a variety of complex measures designed to help homeowners avoid losing their homes due to inability to pay their mortgage. Here is a summary of some of the key aspects to keep in mind:

How Judicial Foreclosures Work

A judicial foreclosure begins when the lender files a lawsuit asking a court for an order allowing a foreclosure sale. The lender will automatically win the case if you don’t respond with a written answer. But if you choose to defend the foreclosure lawsuit, the court will review the evidence and determine which party prevails. If the lender prevails, the judge will enter a judgment and order your home sold.

How Non-Judicial Foreclosures Work

If the lender chooses a non-judicial foreclosure, it must complete the out-of-court procedures described in the Massachusetts statutes. (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244, Foreclosure and Redemption of Mortgages). After completing the required steps, the lender can sell the home at a foreclosure sale. Most lenders go with the nonjudicial process because it is quicker and cheaper than litigating the matter in court. However, there are things that can be done before it gets to the actual foreclosure stage.

Steps Involved To Prevent Foreclosure in Massachusetts

  • Notice of Default and Right to Cure: If your home is a borrower-occupied, principal residence with four or fewer units (investment properties and second homes do not qualify), the foreclosing lender must personally deliver or mail a notice to you (the borrower) giving 90 days to bring the loan current, called “curing the default.” The requirement is that you bring the payments up to date, including any late fees or penalties, within a specified period. (In 2010, the cure period was increased to 150 days except under limited circumstances, but this time frame reverted back to 90 days in 2016.) You have the right to cure the default once during any five-year period. (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244, § 35A).
  • Right to Request a Loan Modification: Massachusetts law requires lenders to take reasonable steps to avoid foreclosure if it is possible to create a modified payment plan that the borrower can afford. This often involves modifying the terms of the mortgage to reduce the monthly payments. You might be eligible for a loan modification if your loan has certain high-cost features, interest-only payments, or unfair provisions (for example, excessive prepayment penalties). If this is the case, the lender must also send a notice explaining the right to pursue a loan modification. (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244 § 35B(c)) Eligible borrowers get a right to request a loan modification once during any three-year period, regardless of who owns the mortgage. Modifications might include reducing the interest rate, extending the term of the loan, or even reducing the principal amount owed.
  • Forbearance Agreements: For homeowners facing temporary financial hardships, forbearance agreements can provide a temporary pause or reduction in mortgage payments. This gives homeowners time to improve their financial situation without the immediate threat of foreclosure.
  • Refinancing Options: Refinancing can provide homeowners with a new mortgage with lower interest rates or more favorable terms, reducing the monthly payment and making it more manageable.
  • Foreclosure Mediation Programs: Some areas in Massachusetts offer mediation programs where homeowners and lenders can work together to find mutually agreeable solutions to avoid foreclosure.
  • Government Assistance Programs: Programs like the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) are available to eligible homeowners. These programs are designed to make mortgages more affordable.
  • Educational Workshops and Seminars: Regularly held workshops and seminars educate homeowners on their rights and options regarding foreclosure.
  • Direct Assistance from Lenders: Some lenders offer specific programs to help their borrowers avoid foreclosure, such as payment plans or temporary reductions in payment amounts.
  • State Laws and Regulations: Massachusetts has specific laws and regulations that protect homeowners in the foreclosure process. These laws and regulations are part of Massachusetts’ efforts to provide a fair and transparent process for foreclosure, giving homeowners better opportunities to address mortgage defaults and potentially prevent foreclosure. Below are some examples of these efforts:
    • Notice of Foreclosure Sale: The lender must advertise the foreclosure sale in a local newspaper and send the borrower a notice at least 14 days before the sale.
    • Bankruptcy Protections: Filing for bankruptcy can halt the foreclosure process. This can provide homeowners with time to reorganize their finances to repay the arrears over five years or negotiate with the lender.
    • Counseling Services: Homeowners facing foreclosure in Massachusetts can access free or low-cost housing counseling services. These services provide guidance on managing finances, understanding mortgage terms, and exploring your options.
    • Sale: Homeowners facing foreclosure can sell the property prior to the foreclosure auction, pay off the mortgage, and keep the equity. If the mortgage balance is greater than the sale price, the homeowner must obtain short sale approval from the lender.

Keep in mind as well that special protections are in place for service members. The Service Members’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA) of 2003 protects homeowners. The SCRA covers all active duty service members, reservists, and members of the National Guard while on active duty. Under the SCRA, if a service member is on active duty, mortgage lenders cannot foreclose on or seize property for failure to pay. This protection applies for 90 days after active duty.


It is important for homeowners in Massachusetts facing financial difficulties to explore all of their foreclosure defense and prevention options early in the process and seek legal advice to find the best solution for their situation. Logan A. Weinkauf, P.C. has experienced bankruptcy attorneys who can help you understand your rights and options and will apply the most recent laws to help prevent foreclosure on your property based on your individual circumstances.