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Florida Looks to End Mandatory Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation

Jennifer Shack, October 25th, 2011

A Florida judicial committee has called for the end of mandatory mediation in Florida. As reported in the Palm Beach Post on Friday, statistics from the circuits show that statewide only 3.6% of all cases referred to mediation reached agreement from March 2010-March 2011. The committee cited obstacles such as “homeowner mistrust of the mediation program and lender resistance” for the program’s poor performance.

This leads to the question of why mandatory mediation is working so much better in Philadelphia, where 70% of all homeowners referred to mediation participate in the process, and 33% leave with an agreement. Only 16% of participating cases end with a sheriff’s sale. Perhaps Florida should look north before scrapping their program.

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4 Responses to “Florida Looks to End Mandatory Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation”

  1. Tom Bateman says:

    The Florida Supreme Court mandated the statewide program by administrative order (AO) in response to a request by a large number of lawyers who petitioned the court to institute emergency procedural rules to address the wave of residential foreclosure cases being filed across the State of Florida. Issuing such an administrative order was unprecedented. The workgroup’s recommendation is to withdraw the AO not to “scrap the program.” In fact, the workgroup has recommended that each of the state’s 20 circuit chief judge decide for him or herself to issue a local AO to continue the program in a way that addresses he needs of the individual circuit. One size does not always fit everyone.

    • Jennifer Shack says:

      Thank you for your comment, Tom. “Scrap the program” was perhaps an inartful way of saying “end the statewide mandate.” I’m curious to know why the recommendation was made. The committee’s report doesn’t mention how they arrived at any conclusions. And while I agree that one size doesn’t fit all, opt-out programs generally have higher participation rates than opt-in programs, and therefore serve more people.

    • Jennifer Shack says:

      Sorry – I hit that submit button too soon. I do want to say that I laud Florida for re-examining the program and for setting up a system to track their progress. I look forward to seeing what the amended program looks like.

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