Florida Mortgage Task Force Urges Foreclosure Mediation
A task force in Florida is urging the use of foreclosure mediation and other case management techniques to achieve settlement at the beginning of a case rather than late in the case. The recommendations would help borrowers become current on their mortgages sooner and would keep the foreclosure pipeline free of unnecessary cases. The managed mediation program called for by Florida's Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases force would be free of charge to borrowers and would place all foreclosure cases on residential properties into mediation unless the plaintiff and borrower agree otherwise. The task force stipulated that under its plan, vacant and abandoned properties would be exempt from the mediation requirement and expedited through the foreclosure process. The task force also distinguishes other foreclosure cases on non-borrower-occupied or tenant-occupied properties where mediation would involve several parties. The 15-member residential mortgage foreclosure task force, set up by a late-March administrative order, compared the foreclosure pipeline like a traffic-jammed highway out of a town under hurricane evacuation in its report this week (which can be downloaded here). "The Task Force has looked for ways to create off-ramps to get traffic off the road, in the form of managed mediation to resolve cases at the beginning instead of at the end; and in the use of expedited proceedings in cases involving vacant or abandoned property," the report reads, in part. "The traffic left on the road must be coordinated to keep it moving safely and as swiftly as possible through the use of the limited case management resources available to a judicial system where every spare staff slot has already been cut." But there are certain situations, the task force acknowledged, in which workout may be impossible and foreclosure inevitable. In such cases, the plaintiff retains every right to repossess the asset through foreclosure. "[T]here is significant concern about demonization of lenders within the plaintiff’s bar," the report said. "In the view of these attorneys, the cases are simple: One party provided money, the other promised to repay the money. They didn’t. As a result, the lender has the right to take their house." Write to Diana Golobay.