Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation is a new state-wide managed mediation initiative initiated by the Florida Supreme Court. After Monday, July 26, 2010, a newly-filed foreclosure that concerns residential homestead property and involves a commercial loan will be automatically referred to mediation.
The mediation will provide homeowners with an additional opportunity to communicate with their lender about mortgage workout options to stop the foreclosure.
After a commercial lender files for foreclosure, the Mediation Manager will contact the homeowner. The Mediation Manager will advise the homeowner that he or she has a right to go to mediation, or a meeting between the parties. The homeowner will also be referred to a financial counselor for assistance. See AOSC09-54, App. A., Ex. 2 at A-23.
The Mediation Manager shall use local resources to the fullest extent possible when implementing the Mediation. The Eighth Judicial Circuit requires the Mediation Manager to do the following:
- Recruit, train, certify and assign local mediators who reside within the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
- Hire local staff and establish a local office within the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
- Provide local or telephonic foreclosure counseling for borrowers who cannot travel.
- Schedule and hold the mediation in the county in the Circuit in which the borrower resides. Meditations will be held in each of our six counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Union.
About the Mediation Manager
The Eighth Judicial Circuit's Mediation Manager is the American Arbitration Association.
The Mediation Manager will manage and maintain the Mediation Initiative in accordance with Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order AOSC09-54 and Eighth Judicial Circuit Administrative Order 3.0954. This includes, but is not limited to, accepting immediate referral to the Mediation upon filing of the complaint, facilitating mediation services and communication between borrowers and plaintiffs throughout the mediation process, monitoring compliance with provisions of the governing Administrative Orders, and regularly reporting results of mediation, including statistics, to the Court.
The Eighth Judicial Circuit issued a Request For Proposal: RFP #2010-3-19 on May 19, 2010, as a fair and impartial way to seek proposals from qualified vendors for appointment to the position of Mediation Manager. All questions and answers related to the RFP were posted. No individual responses were given. After bidding closed and proposals were reviewed, the Eighth Judicial Circuit awarded the position to the American Arbitration Association.
- My bank filed for foreclosure on my home on or after July 26, 2010. What happens next?
The Mediation Manager will try to contact you by telephone, mail, and/or email. You must respond right away! You may also contact the Mediation Manager at any time by phone at 1 (866) 222-6541 or by email at Mortgagemediation8th@adr.org. More information is available on the American Arbitration Association website or in this Mediation Brochure.
- My bank filed for foreclosure on my home before July 26, 2010. For that reason, my case will not be automatically referred to the Mediation. Can I still participate?
Yes! You may ask the Court to participate in the Mediation by filing a special form called the "Borrower's Request to Participate in the RMFM." Please file this form with the Court as soon as possible. You may also contact the Mediation Manager for assistance at any time by phone at (866) 222-6541 or by e-mail at Mortgagemediation8th@adr.org. More information is available on the American Arbitration Association website.
You may always file the Request to Participate. However, you will not be required to provide this form to the Court if your bank filed the complaint for foreclosure on or after July 26, 2010. In that instance, the Court has directed your bank to automatically refer your case to the Mediation. If you have a question about whether your case was referred to the Mediation, please feel free to contact the Mediation Manager at 1 (866) 222-6541 or by email at Mortgagemediation8th@adr.org. More information is available on the American Arbitration Association website.
- What happens when I speak to the Mediation Manager?
The Mediation Manager will give you information about the Mediation. If you decide to participate, the Mediation Manager will tell you what you need to do.
- I cannot afford to pay. Can I still participate?
Yes. You will not have to pay any money to start the Mediation. The lender who filed for foreclosure must pay the fees to begin.
- I cannot afford to hire an attorney. Can I still participate?
Yes. You do not need an attorney to participate in this Mediation.
- Can you give me a summary of what will happen?
Yes, but please note that some cases may be different. In general, here's a brief summary of what to expect.
You must speak to the Mediation Manager right away. This is very important, as there are deadlines you must meet. Call 1 (866) 222-6451 today or email Mortgagemediation8th@adr.org
The Mediation Manager will explain the Mediation to you. You can decide if you want to participate.
If you participate, the Mediation Manager will ask you to locate important financial documents. The bank needs this information before it can evaluate workout options and stop the foreclosure.
The Mediation Manager will set up your meeting with a foreclosure counselor. The foreclosure counselor will help you prepare your financial information.
The Mediation Manager will schedule your mediation. The mediation will be scheduled in the county where you reside. If you need an ADA accommodation or a foreign language interpreter, please tell the Mediation Manager and one will be provided for you. The Mediation Manager will ask you to bring your financial documents to the mediation.
You will attend the mediation. A representative from your bank will also attend. A mediator will begin the session. The mediator does not take sides and remains neutral - it is their job to help both sides talk to each other. At this time, you and your bank can talk about ways to stop the foreclosure. Everything that is said during mediation is confidential. That means no one, including the judge, will know what you said to the mediator during mediation.
After the mediation, the mediator will report to the judge whether you and your bank reached an agreement, but the mediator does not tell the judge anything that you said during mediation. If you reach an agreement with your bank, the foreclosure process will stop. If you did not reach an agreement, the foreclosure process will proceed.
- Does the Mediation Manager work for the Court?
No. The Mediation Manager is an independent, non-profit organization. The Mediation Manager is not paid by the Court. However, the Court has an agreement with the Mediation Manager to manage this Mediation at the Court's request. The Court's directions to the Mediation Manager are in the Administrative Order.
- Why is the Court starting this Mediation?
To provide borrowers and lenders with an opportunity to stop the foreclosure of a home. The Florida Supreme Court recognized a problem due to the increased number of foreclosures statewide, and commissioned a statewide task force to study the problem. The Task Force recommended mediation as a way to stop foreclosures. The Florida Supreme Court now requires all circuits to begin a Mediation like this one which sends foreclosures cases to mediation
- I have more questions. Who should I contact?
Beginning on Monday, July 26, 2010, all complaints filed on a residential mortgage foreclosure originating under TILA Regulation Z must have Form A. Form A must be filed with the Clerk of Court together with the complaint. You may visit the American Arbitration Association's website to fill out Form A electronically. Please remember to file the original with the Clerk. Form A can be found in the Administrative Order, Exhibit 1, at page 23.
The other responsibilities of the Lender can also be found in the Eighth Judicial Circuit's Administrative Order #3.0954.
SANCTIONS: The plaintiff's failure to comply with any provision of Administrative Order #3.0954 shall result in dismissal. Dismissal may subject the plaintiff to additional filing fees and additional Mediation fees. The Eighth Judicial Circuit will strictly adhere to this policy.
As outlined by the Florida Supreme Court in AOSC09-54, "only Florida Supreme Court-certified circuit civil mediators specifically trained in residential mortgage foreclosure matters may be assigned to mediate cases referred to a managed mediation Mediation."See AOSC09-54 at 5. As a result, special training is required to mediate cases in the Mediation. A local foreclosure training course will be offered at the University of Florida in Gainesville on August 5, 2010.
The Mediation Manager will establish a system for managing mediators that provides for the impartial assignment of mediators, for example, by the use of a rotating list and is open to qualified Supreme Court certified mediators who are capable of providing effective services in the residential foreclosure setting. See AOSC09-54 at App. B, Ex. 13 at A-68.
- Eighth Judicial Circuit Administrative Order #3.0954: Administrative Order For Case Management of Residential Foreclosure Cases and Mandatory Referral Of Mortgage Foreclosure Cases Involving Homestead Residences to Mediation
- The local administrative order is effective beginning Monday, July 26, 2010.
- Florida Supreme Court Administrative Order No. AOSC09-54: In re: Final Report and Recommendations on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases
For additional information, please contact the American Arbitration Association, the Eighth Judicial Circuit's Mediation Manager.
- Toll Free Number for Borrowers: 1 (866) 222-6451
- Toll Free Number for Lenders' Filing & Questions: 1 (800) 218-5524
- Administrative Phone Number: (954) 372-4343
- Email: Mortgagemediation8th@adr.org