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Foreclosure Defense: A Beginner’s Guide

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This post is coauthored by Barbara Bavis and Robert Brammer, legal reference specialists


The loss of a home to foreclosure can be devastating financially and emotionally. In this guide, we hope to provide you with resources that can aid you in researching a defense to a foreclosure action. Please keep in mind that foreclosure defense is a complicated area of the law, and you are strongly advised to seek the advice of an attorney, including your local Legal Aid Society, if at all possible.

Ailworth Cottage, Accomac Court House, Accomac County, Virginia, ca. 1930 and 1939. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room.
Ailworth Cottage, Accomac Court House, Accomac County, Virginia, ca. 1930 and 1939. Photo by Frances Benjamin Johnston. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room.




State Law and Comparative Treatises

You can also find state-specific treatises by browsing our catalog subject headings. To do this, click here to access our catalog, click on “basic search,” highlight “subject browse,” and then search for a subject heading using the following syntax as an example: Foreclosure –Florida. Click on the subject heading and you can browse the resources included under that heading.

If you are unable to visit us at the Law Library of Congress, we suggest finding these resources in a library near you by using the WorldCat catalog. When you select a resource from your search results list in WorldCat, scroll down to the “Find a copy in my library” section, enter your zip code (or city and country, for those not in the United States), and WorldCat will list the closest libraries to you that own that resource.  You can then click on the library’s name to be taken to the resource’s entry in that library’s catalog.

State Statutes

To locate your state’s statutes on topics associated with foreclosures, please see our Guide to Law Online page and click on your state. You will find a link to your state’s code under the heading “Legislative.”


Federal Resources

There are a variety of resources available to help you avoid foreclosure, including loan modification, loan refinancing, and HUD approved counseling.  Some federal agencies have provided informational websites to help describe and explain the differences between these options, including:

In addition, as always, there are several freely-available resources that can be used to locate the federal statutes and regulations cited in all of the resources listed in this Beginner’s Guide.  For more information about federal statutes–including how they are published and where to find them–please review our previous post, “Federal Statutes: A Beginner’s Guide.”  For copies of the Code of Federal Regulations, from 1996 to the present, please visit the Government Printing Office’s Code of Federal Regulations collection on its FDSys page.


You may want to visit your local public law library to take advantage of their subscription to commercial legal research databases, such as Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis. You can also locate cases related to foreclosure defense using Google Scholar. You might want to limit the results to your particular jurisdiction. To learn more about how to use Google Scholar to find free case law online, please view the Library of Congress video tutorial on the subject.


Rules of Procedure

If you are submitting a pleading to a court, be sure to check the Federal or State Rules of Procedure, as well as the local court rules to ensure you have complied with their rules.  For more information about state and local court rules, and to find links to pertinent online legal information, be sure to visit each state’s Guide to Law Online page.


We hope you found this guide helpful. Do you have a favorite resource related to foreclosure defense? Please let us know in the comments section. If you have any questions, please contact the Law Library of Congress.

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