Foreclosures in Pennsylvania are judicial, which means the foreclosing party must file a complaint in court to foreclose your home. If you’re facing a foreclosure in Pennsylvania, it’s important that you find out all you can about the the state’s foreclosure procedures, including the foreclosure notices you’ll get, whether you can stop the foreclosure by paying the past-due amounts prior to the sale, if you can redeem the home following the sale, and if you could be liable for a deficiency judgment after the foreclosure is over.
You can find a summary of some of the main parts of Pennsylvania foreclosure law below along with citations to the statutes so you can read the law yourself.
The citations to Pennsylvania’s foreclosure statutes are:
You can find a link to the Pennsylvania statutes on the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s website at www.legis.state.pa.us. If you need help locating the statutes, see Finding Your State’s Foreclosure Laws.
The important parts of Pennsylvania’s foreclosure laws are summarized below. You can find more detailed articles on various aspects of Pennsylvania foreclosure law in Nolo’s Pennsylvania Foreclosure Law Center.
Foreclosures in Pennsylvania are judicial, which means the foreclosing party must sue the borrower in court in order to foreclose the property.
Pennsylvania law requires the following foreclosure notices.
Notice of intention to foreclose. The foreclosing party, in most cases, must mail the borrower a notice of intention to foreclose, which gives the borrower an opportunity to cure the default, at least 30 days before starting the foreclosure. 41 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 403. (This notice is not required if the home is abandoned.)
Notice about mortgage assistance. At least 30 days before foreclosing, the foreclosing party must usually give the borrower notice that he or she may qualify for financial assistance under Pennsylvania’s Homeowner's Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. The borrower must be at least 60 days delinquent on the mortgage payments before the notice is sent. 35 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 1680.403c.
The notice must also advise the borrower of the default and give 30 days (plus three days to account for mailing time) to have a face-to-face meeting with a local consumer credit counseling agency to try to resolve the default. 35 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 1680.403c.
The foreclosing party does not have to send the notice if the borrower is in default for more than 24 months, owes over $60,000, or the assistance program runs out of funds. The notice is also not required if the foreclosing party previously gave the notice and the borrower:
Summons and complaint. In Pennsylvania, the foreclosing party officially starts the foreclosure by filing a lawsuit (a complaint) in court. It gives notice of the lawsuit to the borrower by serving him or her with a summons and complaint. (Learn more about the difference between a foreclosure summons and complaint.)
Notice of sale. If the court grants a judgment in favor of the foreclosing party, the property will be sold to satisfy the mortgage debt. A notice of sale must be posted on the property, as well as the sheriff's office, and served to the borrower at least 30 days before the sale. It must also be published in a newspaper once a week for three weeks. Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 3129.2.
Pennsylvania National Guard members on active state service (and 30 days thereafter) are exempt from civil process (which means they cannot be served with a foreclosure complaint). 51 Pa. C.S.A. § 4105. (There is also a federal law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which provides protections to military service members.)
“Reinstating” is when you catch up on the defaulted mortgage's missed payments (plus fees and costs) in order to stop a foreclosure. (Learn more about reinstatement to avoid foreclosure.)
Pennsylvania law allows reinstatement up to one hour before the bidding starts at the foreclosure sale, a maximum of three times in any calendar year. 41 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 404.
In some states, the borrower can redeem (repurchase) the home within a certain period of time after the foreclosure.
Pennsylvania law does not provide a borrower with the right to redeem the property after the foreclosure sale. (To get details on redemption rights in Pennsylvania, see Nolo’s article If I lose my home to foreclosure in Pennsylvania, can I get it back?)
When the total mortgage debt exceeds the foreclosure sale price, the difference is called a “deficiency.” Some states allow the lender to seek a personal judgment (called a “deficiency judgment”) against the borrower for this amount, while other states prohibit deficiency judgments with what are called anti-deficiency laws.
In Pennsylvania, the foreclosing party may obtain a deficiency judgment by filing a separate lawsuit within six months after the foreclosure sale. If the foreclosing party was the purchaser at the foreclosure sale, the deficiency is limited by the fair market value of the property. 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § § 8103, 5522(b)(2). (For a summary of the deficiency law in Pennsylvania, see Pennsylvania Laws on Post-Foreclosure Deficiency Judgments.)
If the foreclosed homeowner doesn’t vacate (leave) the property following the foreclosure sale, the new owner may start a separate eviction action to remove him or her from the premises.