Twelfth Judicial Circuit Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program (RMFM) Per Administrative Order 2010-11.1
If you are a homestead property owner of property in Sarasota County, Manatee County, or DeSoto County, whose foreclosure was filed on or after June 21, 2010 you are automatically eligible to participate in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s Residential Foreclosure Mediation Program (RMFM) as more particularly established in Administrative Order 2010-11.1 as amended by Administrative Order 2010.11.1(a). This program was designed by Chief Judge Lee Haworth to address the lack of communication between Homeowner and Lender in the foreclosure process and to bring the parties together in a mediation early in the process to determine up front if there is a way to resolve the foreclosure without the time, expense and emotional distress which is often involved in foreclosure litigation. This program was designed particularly for homestead property owners only and is not automatically available to investors, renters or commercial property owners. However, AO 2010-11.1 does provide that, even if a litigant does not automatically qualify for the RMFM Program, (either because the property is not homestead or because the homestead action was filed prior to the effective date of Administrative Order 2010-11.1) you still have the option of filing a Motion to Compel Mediation, either in accordance with the RMFM program or under Florida Statute Section 44.102. Thus, the fact that the property is not a homestead or was not filed after the effective date of the RMFM Program does not prevent you from being able to request that the Court order the Plaintiff to attend a mediation.
The procedures involved in the RMFM Program are quite detailed as more particularly set forth in the 71 pages of Administrative Order 2010-11.1 and the recent Amendment thereto found in Administrative Order 2010-11.1(a) effective January 1, 2011. The RMFM Program is free to the Homeowner and provides the Homeowner with an early opportunity to meet with someone from the Lender with settlement authority to explore foreclosure alternatives early on in the litigation. The Homeowner is required to make certain financial disclosures and participate in credit counseling before the mediation can be scheduled. Likewise, the Homeowner is entitled to request certain and receive certain information from the Lender prior to the Mediation. The RMFM Program in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit is run by The Collins Center, an independent non-profit organization chosen by the Twelfth Judicial Circuit to run the RMFM Program.
The RMFM Program is still very new and the success of the RMFM Program remains to be seen. However, if you are a homestead property owner and you want to keep your home, the RMFM Program will be your first opportunity to engage in the Lender’s loan modification process, including the submission of documents related thereto, in a manner which is organized and managed by a third party who is responsible for ensuring that all of the information that you remit is appropriately submitted to the Lender in advance of the mediation. In theory, if the process set forth in AO 2010-11.1 is followed by the Homeowner and Lender, the Homeowner’s request for modification can be processed prior to the mediation and the decision can be rendered at mediation with the hopes that both parties can leave the mediation with a settlement in place.
If the Homeowner does not wish to keep the home, then the Homeowner can apply for a deed in lieu of foreclosure (if applicable) at the mediation and a decision can be rendered. If the Homeowner has a short sale offer on the property pending at the time of mediation, then the mediation can be used to negotiate the approval and terms associated therewith. One issue I have been frequently encountering in the RMFM Program is that the individuals appearing on behalf of the Plaintiff often have not reviewed the information prior to the date of mediation and it is discovered at mediation that the information submitted was not received and/or was not reviewed prior to the mediation. In those cases, it is likely that additional documentation will need to be submitted or re-submitted which results in the parties being unable to come to a conclusion of the matter at mediation. The RMFM Program is still relatively new and thus I expect that there will be significant improvements to the RMFM Program as it progresses.
The bottom line is that foreclosure is not good for anyone. If the Lender takes back the property in foreclosure, not only will they lose in the income stream associated with their loan and have to pay their attorney to go through the process, they must insure it, pay the taxes, maintain it, and pay to market, sell and transfer the property to another buyer. A Lender will not be able to sell the property to a third party for a penny more that the fair market value and so if the mortgage is under water, the Lender is in a lose/lose situation. Foreclosures also lead to abandoned homes, vandalism, and decreased property values in our community. At a minimum, the RMFM Program ensures that any homestead property owner facing foreclosure has a meaningful opportunity in a controlled mediation to speak directly with someone from the Lender with settlement authority within 120 days of the foreclosure being filed.
If you are unable to afford to retain an attorney to represent you, you may be eligible to obtain a pro bono attorney through Legal Aid. In addition, many attorneys are volunteering their services for RMFM Mediation conferences and/or offering legal representation for RMFM mediations at a reduced rate. More information on the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s RMFM Program can be obtained from the Twelfth Judicial Circuit’s website at and additional information on foreclosures and foreclosure resources available to Homeowners is also available on Sarasota County’s website: .
If there is one thing I hope you take from the information I have provided in my 4 part series, Foreclosure 101, it is that foreclosure is not your only option. Every person’s circumstances are unique and there are several foreclosure alternatives which may be available to you to help you avoid foreclosure or minimize your exposure to other negative consequences of the foreclosure process. An experienced attorney can help you through this process to determine the best possible outcome for you and your family based on your unique circumstances. If you are in foreclosure or reasonably likely to go into foreclosure, please contact an experienced foreclosure defense attorney to discuss all of your options so that you are armed with the knowledge you need to make important decisions when and if a foreclosure is filed.
Post is a section from “Foreclosure 101: The Basics Of The Foreclosure Process In Sarasota, Manatee And Desoto County”
by Nancy Cason, Esquire, Attorney at Law with Syprett, Meshad, Resnick, Lieb, Dumbaugh, Jones, Krotec & Westheimer, P.A.
Foreclosure 101: The Basics Of The Foreclosure Process In Sarasota, Manatee And Desoto County (4 Part Series by Nancy Cason)
Foreclosure 101: Foreclosure Basics (Part 1)
Foreclosure 101: Foreclosure Alternatives (Part 2)
Foreclosure 101: Foreclosure Defense (Part 3)
-> Foreclosure 101: RMFM & Conclusion (Part 4)