Do you have foreclosure money coming to you?
Here's how foreclosed homeowners can find out if they have surplus funds waiting for them and how to collect
Almost 3,000 Franklin County homeowners of foreclosed properties have money left over from a sheriff's sale waiting for them at the Common Pleas clerk's office.
Under state law, the clerk is required to notify the foreclosed homeowner within 90 days of the sale, by certified mail, of the surplus and the procedure for collecting it.
But Franklin County doesn't send the notices, even though the law has been on the books since 1986.
Clerk Maryellen O'Shaughnessy said her office hasn't been mailing the notices because the court's judges haven't filed orders to do so.
Common Pleas Judge Stephen L. McIntosh, the administrative judge, said court administrators and the clerk's office have been working since last fall to develop a process for sending the notices and for improving the system for distributing the funds.
Other county clerks, however, don't wait for a court order to notify homeowners. In Hamilton and Summit counties, for example, a certified letter is triggered whenever surplus funds are deposited in the clerk's account by the sheriff's office following the sale of the property.
"The (Ohio Revised) Code requires it," said Chris Wagner, chief of compliance for the Hamilton County clerk.
Franklin County plans to send out notices only when there are surpluses in mortgage foreclosures, not tax foreclosures, because of its interpretation of the code, said Sharlene Chance, compliance officer for O'Shaughnessy's office.
But clerk's offices in Hamilton, Summit and Delaware counties said they send notices of surpluses in all foreclosure cases.
"Our judges want us to send it in every case," said Delaware County Clerk Natalie Fravel.
Staff members in those counties concede that many notices never reach their target because the most recent address on file often is the foreclosed property, which many homeowners have already left. If the certified mail and a follow-up letter through regular mail don't get a response, the law requires that the unclaimed funds be listed in a local newspaper.
Hamilton County's system for distributing the money is a model for what is being developed in Franklin County, Chance said.
Franklin County's new system, which will be accessible through the clerk's website — clerk.franklincountyohio.gov — could be in place by the end of the month, O'Shaughnessy said. The web-based system will explain the process for claiming the funds and include links to documents that need to be filed with the court. Ultimately, those requesting funds will be required to attend a hearing in Common Pleas Court.
In the meantime, Franklin County residents wondering about surplus funds can contact the clerk's office at 614-525-3600 or search our database below. If they have funds waiting, they must contact the staff of the judge assigned to the case for instructions about requesting the money and scheduling a hearing.
Money can be collected without an attorney, although there are legal steps to maneuver.
Those who think they have surplus foreclosure funds in other counties should contact that Common Pleas Court clerk's office.