Update on Home Foreclosure Mediation
by Keith Seat
Mediate.com Mediation News Editor Keith Seat here provides an additional update on the nationwide development of foreclosure mediation programs.
- The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed S. 222, which would give bankruptcy courts nationwide the authority to set up foreclosure mediation programs. Mediation programs have already been set up in several bankruptcy courts in New York, Florida, Iowa, and Connecticut. Banks contested the program in Rhode Island, however, leading to the legislation. On the House side, H.R. 1131 has been introduced to provide grants to states to provide mediation for homeowners facing foreclosure. Housing Wire (March 31, 2011); Housing Wire (March 18, 2011)
- Washington state enacted H.B. 1362 to provide more time and counseling for indebted homeowners, and mediation with lenders prior to foreclosure. A housing counselor or lawyer can refer a homeowner to mediation, in which a mediator is to make sure both parties are acting in good faith. Washington is the third non-judicial foreclosure state to enact a mediation process, following Nevada and Maryland. H.B. 1362 takes effect in July. The News Tribune (April 15, 2011)
- New home foreclosure mediation programs are beginning in the Illinois counties of Peoria and Madison. While homeowners in Madison County must submit a mediation request and meet certain financial pre-conditions, in Peoria County the mediation period is mandatory for residential foreclosures. The mediation program in Peoria begins June 1 and is financed with increased filing fees. The Madison/St. Claire Record (April 19, 2011); PJ Star.com (April 19, 2011)
- Washington, D.C. adopted foreclosure mediation legislation in November and then barred residential foreclosures until promulgation of mediation-related rules, which were published in April. Lenders must give borrowers notice of default which includes a mediation election form. If borrowers decide to mediate they must pay a $50 fee and mediation must be completed within 90 days. Washington Business Journal (April 8, 2011)
- Three alternative foreclosure reform bills are near enactment in Hawaii, although settling on one bill could be challenging. Two of the three bills include mediation. Mortgage industry representatives have raised strong objections to the bills, and especially to the dispute resolution provision. Star Advertiser.com (April 15, 2011)
- Legislation was introduced in Delaware that would provide for automatic mediation for homeowners facing foreclosure, instead of the voluntary mediation program that is currently in place. Delaware Online.com (March 16, 2011)
- Legislation in Connecticut would extend the state’s foreclosure mediation program through 2014 and require mediation to be completed before foreclosure litigation can proceed. Courant.com (March 21, 2011)
- The Indiana Supreme Court is launching a secure online network for exchanging necessary financial documents and information in order to make foreclosure mediation more effective. A pilot project using the system is beginning in two counties. Inside Indiana Business (April 11, 2011)
Keith L. Seat is a full-time mediator and arbitrator who can effectively assist parties in resolving a wide range of telecommunications, antitrust and other commercial disputes. With over twenty years of legal experience as a mediator, arbitrator, litigator, advocate before executive branch agencies, and key staffer in the legislative and judicial branches, Mr. Seat brings a wealth of experience to his work as a mediator and arbitrator to help parties reach successful resolutions of complex disputes.
Mr. Seat began his legal career in a federal clerkship with U.S. District Judge William H. Becker, and then litigated antitrust and commercial disputes for many years at a major Washington law firm, Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White, where he first worked on telecom and technology issues. In 1993, Mr. Seat was named General Counsel of the Antitrust, Business Rights and Competition Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, where he served for four years, playing a significant role in the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Returning to the private sector in 1997, Mr. Seat rounded out his experience with a senior in-house counsel position at MCI, one of the nation’s largest telecommunications firms. At MCI, he gained a first-hand appreciation for the important perspective brought to issues and disputes by in-house decision-makers. Mr. Seat also deepened his knowledge of telecom issues and gained experience addressing competition-related issues in the corporate setting, as well as helping resolve disputes among large organizations.
Additional articles by Keith Seat