On May 25, 2015, in an abrupt move to beat the summer recess, the Ohio House and Senate agreed to revisions to the Ohio foreclosure process, and the bill was submitted for the Governor’s signature.
Some highlights of the bill are:
- In a residential foreclosure the plaintiff can request an expedited foreclosure process by establishing by clear and convincing evidence that the property is vacant and abandoned. The plaintiff must also establish that it is the party entitled to enforce the debt instrument; that there has been a monetary default; and that no defendant has filed an answer contesting the allegations or has filed a written statement that the property is not vacant and abandoned. The judge must rule on the motion within 21 days, or within 21 days of the last answer date of any defendant, whichever is later. If the motion is granted, the sheriff must schedule the sale within 75 days after the clerk of courts issues the order of sale.
- For foreclosure sales of residential property, the judgment creditor will no longer be required to pay a deposit at the time of sale. Other successful bidders must pay a standardized deposit amount based on the appraised value of the property.
- The establishment of a statewide website allowing foreclosure sale bids to be entered online.
- A standardized procedure allowing the judgment creditor to request an order appointing a private selling officer to conduct the sale, instead of the sheriff. The private selling officer must be licensed as both an auctioneer, and as a real estate broker or real estate salesperson.
- When a sale is scheduled, a second sale will also be scheduled to take place between seven and 30 days after the first sale, if there are no bidders at the first sale. At the second sale there will be no minimum bid requirement. If there are no bidders at the second sale, additional sales may be scheduled with no minimum bid requirement. If there is a bidder at the second or a subsequent sale, the judgment creditor and the first lienholder will each have the right to redeem the property within 14 days after the sale by paying the purchase price, and thereby become the purchaser.
- In all foreclosures, the officer making the sale must record the deed within 14 days after confirmation of the sale and payment of the balance due. If the officer fails to record the deed within the specified time frame, the purchaser may file a motion to have a certified copy of the sale confirmation order filed with the county recorder in order to effectuate the transfer of title. This is intended to eliminate delays if a sheriff is backlogged in executing and recording deeds.
- A residential property owner can face criminal charges if they knowingly cause physical harm to a residential property after being served with a summons in a mortgage loan foreclosure action.