For General Questions and Status Requests, call (609) 421-6100 or e-mail: SCCOForeclosure.Mailbox@judiciary.state.nj.us
Foreclosure actions are filed in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, General Equity Part. Foreclosure pleadings are filed with the Office of the Superior Court Clerk, Foreclosure Processing Services in Trenton until the action is contested. The types of liens that can be foreclosed are mortgages, municipal tax liens and condominium or homeowner association liens for unpaid assessments.
Office of Foreclosure
The foreclosure process in New Jersey is a two-tiered system involving both Superior Court General Equity judges and the staff of the Office of Foreclosure. The Office of Foreclosure is a unit in the Administrative Office of the Courts, Civil Practice Division. The Office of Foreclosure handles seven types of foreclosure actions: (1) residential mortgage foreclosure; (2) multi-family/ commercial mortgage foreclosure; (3) in personam tax certificate foreclosure; (4) municipal in rem tax certificate foreclosure; (5) condominium lien foreclosure; (6) strict foreclosure (to remedy foreclosure action errors) and (7) Fair Foreclosure Act optional foreclosure procedures.
The Office of Foreclosure recommends entry of mortgage, tax and condominium lien foreclosure judgments and orders to the General Equity judge sitting in Mercer County, regardless of the county where the property is located, pursuant to Court Rules 4:64-1, 4:64-7 and 1:34-6. This statewide practice creates foreclosure processing efficiencies and uniformity.
The office's attorneys review complaints for compliance with statutory, case law and court rule requirements; review filed answers to determine whether an answer is uncontesting or contesting; review service of process and recommend entry of default; process routine motions and orders; review final uncontested judgment packages for completeness and confirm the computation of the amount due on the underlying debt.
If a pleading creates a dispute requiring a judicial decision, the foreclosure file is sent to the General Equity judge in the county of venue, that is, the county where the property is located. After the dispute is resolved by the General Equity judge, the case file is returned to the Office of Foreclosure for handling as an uncontested foreclosure action.
An answer is considered uncontesting when it does not dispute the validity of the mortgage, the priority of the mortgage or create an issue with respect to the plaintiff’s right to foreclose. An uncontesting answer also may recite that the party is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the allegations and to leave the plaintiff to its proofs. Foreclosure actions with uncontesting answers remain with the Office of Foreclosure for administrative processing.
A mortgage foreclosure action may result in a judgment and writ ordering the sheriff to sell realty to raise the amount due on the debt and to bar and foreclose the defendants’ equitable right of redemption (the right of the owner or mortgagor to reclaim clear title to the property upon full repayment of the tax delinquency or mortgage debt, as the case may be).
Other foreclosure actions, including most tax foreclosures, do not order a public sale by the sheriff. Rather, they decree that the plaintiff is the owner of the property and the defendant is barred and foreclosed of his or her equitable right of redemption, because the owner failed, after notice, to pay the tax arrears.
The office, on behalf of the Office of the Clerk of Superior Court also processes writs of execution that authorize sheriffs to sell property and writs of possession that authorize sheriffs to remove occupants.