Florida Supreme Court Adopts Foreclosure Mediation Program
The Florida Supreme Court yesterday adopted a mediation program to reach out to borrowers facing foreclosure, according to a court order. The bill may help aid distressed borrowers who are too far along in the foreclosure process to benefit from next year's Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program (HAFA) 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. Under the statewide managed mediation program, all foreclosure cases in the state courts that involve residential property will be referred to mediation. According to the court order, the non-profit mediators should be independent of the judicial branch, capable of operating without funds from the court, be politically and professionally neutral and must be able to handle the high volume of foreclosure actions. Under the order, the mediation manager must schedule a mediation no earlier than 60 days and no later than 120 days after the suit is filed and is responsible for contacting the borrower to explain the program. Write to Jon Prior.