Florida S.C. Approves Foreclosure Mediation Plan

December 30, 2009

The Florida Supreme Court adopted a mediation program to reach out to borrowers facing foreclosure, according to a court order. Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Peggy A. Quince issued an administration order implementing aspects of a managed foreclosure mediation model recommended by a court-appointed task force last month.

According to Quince's order, all foreclosure cases in the state involving residential homestead properties will be referred to mediation unless the plaintiff and borrower agree otherwise or unless effective pre-suit meditation that complies with the mediation program requirements has been conducted.

The order requires certified mediators to schedule mediation between 60 days and 120 days after a foreclosure suit is filed. The mediation manager is responsible for contacting borrowers to explain the program and to refer them to foreclosure counselors approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The model administrative order provides for phased payments, whereby lenders pay part of the cost at the time the complaint is filed and the remainder after the mediation is scheduled. Total mediation fees may not exceed $750.

The Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases was established in late March to respond to the nation’s third highest mortgage delinquency rate by state; its worst foreclosure inventory; and the most foreclosure starts in the nation. At the end of 2009, the state estimates 456,000 pending foreclosure cases statewide.

The 15-member task force issued a final report in August recommending the program and identifying a lack of communication between plaintiffs and borrowers as the largest impediment to early resolutions in the foreclosure process.

Administrative Order was entered by the Florida Supreme Court and is now online. In the order, which sets up mediation for homestead (and other) foreclosures at no cost to borrowers, also provides:

Here’s a roundup of what the order provides:

"Plaintiff's Disclosure for Mediation. Within the time limit stated below, prior to attending mediation the borrower may request any of the following information and documents from the plaintiff:

  • Documentary evidence the plaintiff is the owner and holder in due course of the note and mortgage sued upon. A history showing the application of all payments by the borrower during the life of the loan.

  • A statement of the plaintiff's position on the present net value of the mortgage loan.

  • The most current appraisal of the property available to the plaintiff.

  • The borrower must deliver a written request for such information to the Program Manager in the format of Exhibit 6 attached no later than 25 days prior to the mediation session. The Program Manager shall promptly electronically transmit the request for information to plaintiff's counsel.

  • Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.