As of mid-2014, Indiana has one of the highest percentages of abandoned homes in foreclosure in the country. This is a serious problem because vacant homes can quickly fall into disrepair and tend to attract vandals or illegal activity, which brings down property values in the surrounding neighborhood.
To deal with this issue, Indiana has implemented a fast-track foreclosure law that applies in cases where the homeowner has left the property for good. Read on to learn more about how a fast-track foreclosure of an abandoned home in Indiana works, what constitutes evidence of abandonment, and how you can fight a fast-track foreclosure in Indiana if you still occupy the home. (Learn more about the reasons states implement fast-track foreclosure laws for abandoned homes.)
Fast-Tracking Foreclosures of Abandoned Properties in Indiana
Generally, under Indiana foreclosure law, the lender must wait three months after filing a complaint for foreclosure (the first step in the foreclosure process) before it can hold a foreclosure sale. However, if a court deems a home “abandoned,” there is no waiting period. (To learn more about Indiana foreclosure laws, visit Nolo’s Indiana Foreclosure Law Center.)
How The Lender Gets a Fast-Track Foreclosure
Under Indiana law, the lender can file a motion with the court at the start of the foreclosure (or during the foreclosure process) that asks the court to make a determination that the homeowner abandoned the property. In its motion, the lender must include evidence that the home is vacant. (Ind. Code § 32-30-10.6-3).
What constitutes evidence of abandonment? Any one of the following conditions can constitute evidence of abandonment.
- The windows or doors to the home are boarded up or closed off.
- There are multiple broken and unrepaired windows.
- There are one or more smashed through, broken off, unhinged, or continuously unlocked doors to the home.
- The gas service, electric service, water service, or other utility services to the home have been turned off.
- There is rubbish, trash, or debris around the home.
- The home is deteriorating and is either below (or is in imminent danger of falling below) the minimum community standards for public safety and sanitation.
- The lender has changed the locks to the home and the owner has not requested entrance to the property for at least 15 days after the changing of the locks.
- An enforcement authority determined that the home is vacant.
- The homeowner made a written statement indicating a clear intent to abandon the property.
- There is other evidence indicating a clear intent to abandon the property (Ind. Code § 32-30-10.6-5).
The court will then issue an order to show cause as to why it should not declare the home abandoned and set a hearing date. The hearing may take place as soon as 15 days after the court issues the order (Ind. Code § 32-30-10.6-4).
How to Fight the Fast-Track Foreclosure
To stop the foreclosure from being fast-tracked, the homeowner must:
- submit evidence or an objection on the issue of abandonment in writing to the court before the hearing, or
- appear at the hearing and present evidence or oral testimony that he or she has not abandoned the home (Ind. Code § 32-30-10.6-4).
Under Indiana law, an attorney can represent the homeowner at the abandonment hearing (Ind. Code § 32-30-10.6-4). (Learn more general information about How to Protect Yourself from a Fast-Track Foreclosure of an "Abandoned" Home.)
The Court Will Determine if the Property Is Abandoned
If the homeowner fails to respond or fails to properly contest the lender’s claim that he or she abandoned the home, the court will issue an order declaring the home abandoned and order an immediate foreclosure sale (Ind. Code § 32-30-10.6-5).
When to Hire an Attorney
If your lender is asking an Indiana court to determine that you abandoned your home, but you still live there, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced Indiana foreclosure attorney to discuss your rights and how to enforce them. (Learn more about how to find and hire an attorney in Nolo’s Foreclosure Lawyers & Other Foreclosure Help area.)