Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Mandates Mediation of Homestead Mortgage Foreclosures

Miami Personal Bankruptcy Lawyer Jordan E. Bublick has over 25 years of experience in filing Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. His office is centrally located in Miami at 1221 Brickell Avenue, 9th Fl., Miami and may be reached at (305) 891-4055.

In the year 2009, as reported in the media, (on April 9, 2009), Judge Joseph P. Farina, Chief Judge of the the Circuit Court of 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County, Florida signed Administrative Order No. 09-08 establishing the "11th Circuit Homestead Access to Mediation Program ("Champ") and generally requiring mediation of residential homestead mortgage foreclosure cases filed on or after May 1, 2009. The mediation services though are available to mortgage foreclosures filed prior to May 1, 2009 on a case by case basis.

Pursuant to the administrative order and unless otherwise agreed, parties will be deemed to have agreed to referral of the foreclosure mediation to the "Collins Center for Public Policy" for mediation and assignment of a certified circuit civil mediator. No action will be taken by the Court to set a final hearing or enter summary judgment until certain requirements are met. The Collins Center's website provides and overview of the program, frequently asked questions, as well as a link to a video as to the establishment of its foreclosure mediation program.

Under the plan, the plaintiff mortgage lender is required to pay the fee of the Collins Center. Under the plan, the Collins Center is to contact the homeowner within 30 days and advise of the availability of financial counseling and mediation. The Collins Center may refer the homeowner to a HUD or National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program agency which is to contact the homeowner within 21 days for counseling and to assist with the completion of financial documentation for use in renegotiating the loan. The lender and homeowner may register at the Collins Center's website and retrieve forms for financial documentation. Upon completion of the financial documentation, a mediation session is to be scheduled with the Collins Center to pay the certified mediators who have received additional training in foreclosure mediation. The mortgage holder's attorney and the homeowners are required to be physically present at the mediation with the mortgage lender's representative available with full authority to settle.

If the homeowner fails to appear at the mediation session or an impasse is reached, the mortgage foreclosure case may proceed to a final hearing. Within 10 days after completion of the mediation, the mediator is to file a report with the Court as to the lack of agreement or a signed written agreement. This mediation is available only once per case.

It is noted that Form "A" which includes the "Certificate of Plaintiff Regarding Status of Residential Property" and "Certificate of Plaintiff Regarding Representative at Mediation" requires that a copy of certain pooling or servicing agreements with investors (ie. as to securitized mortgages) are to filed with the foreclosure complaint and brought to the mediation session.