One of the biggest complaints we hear from Homeowners is that they can’t get an answer from their Bank about a Loan Modification. The paperwork is voluminous to complete and then gets lost or misplaced by the Bank. Phone calls are not helpful and the process is frustrating.
In defending Foreclosure Cases, we’d often seek “Mediation” with the Bank as an opportunity to have an in-person or telephonic meeting between us and our Homeowner Clients and the Bank and their Foreclosure Attorneys. Other attorneys tried this tactic as well—and we all had mixed results. But at least we had an opportunity to try and resolve the foreclosure through negotiation and dialogue.
In 2009, the Florida State Supreme Court directed each of Florida’s twenty (20) circuit courts (the courts in which Foreclosure Lawsuits are heard), develop and implement a mediation program for homeowners facing Foreclosure. Each circuit court implemented a Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation (RMFM) Program by which lenders were required to have an in-person or telephonic meeting with the Homeowner/Defendant in the presence of an impartial mediator to discuss the Foreclosure Lawsuit and possible resolution (by loan modification, deed in lieu of Foreclosure, consent judgment and the like).
The RMFM Program has been subject to a great deal of criticism—much of it justified. Each circuit court hired its own mediation managers and implemented their own mediation program. The RMFM Program was cumbersome, confusing and ineffective.
And now it has been cancelled.
On December 19, 2011, Florida Chief Judge Charles T. Canady issued AOSC11-44 which ended the RMFM Program for all new cases.
We still believe that Mediation—and Negotiation—with the Banks can be beneficial to effectuate solutions (Loan Modifications, Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure, Short Sale) that work for Homeowners and Banks and like we did before 2009, we’ll file motions requesting mediation in active foreclosure cases.
Moreover, we suspect that some judges in different circuit courts will issue orders maintaining their Mediation Programs despite the cancellation of the Statewide RMFM Program.
We all ought to demand it and seek better and more effective programs to help Homeowners in Florida.