The Dade Court requires that all homestead foreclosure cases submit to mediation before final judgment may be entered. Effective May 1, 2009, the Dade Court implemented the 11th Circuit Homestead Access to Mediation Program ("CHAMP"). The CHAMP program must be completed within 120 days from when the foreclosure is filed. Mediation may also be available in other homestead foreclosure cases, even if they were filed before May 1, 2009. However, foreclosures on investment properties, non-homesteads, and construction liens are not eligible for CHAMP.
What are Mediations and Homestead Properties?
A mediation is a conference which must be attended by the borrower and plaintiff, and where the foreclosure case can potentially be settled before trial or a final judgment hearing. A homestead property in Florida is generally a homeowner's primary residence, for which they have obtained an official homestead real estate tax exemption. The Dade Court has partnered with the Collins Center for Public Policy, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization, to manage and conduct the mediation. The following are some key points of the Dade Court's Order:
? All parties to a foreclosure action automatically agree to mediation unless the parties agree otherwise within 5 days of the main homeowner being served with the foreclosure complaint.
Mediation Procedures Must Be Met Before the Bank Can Get a Foreclosure Judgment
? Before a trial or final judgment can proceed in any homestead foreclosure case filed after May 1, 2009, the parties must comply with the Dade Court's mediation procedures.
The Bank Must Immediately Notify the Collins Center
? At the same time that a foreclosure Plaintiff/Lender (or "Bank") files a homestead foreclosure, it must electronically notify the Collins Center.
The Bank Must Pay for the Mediation
? The Bank must send the Collins Center a check for $750.00 within 5 days of when it files the foreclosure, otherwise its lawsuit can be dismissed.
The Collins Center Will Reach Out to the Homeowner
? The Collins Center will try for 30 days to contact the homeowner/borrower; if they cannot, the foreclosure can proceed to judgment.
The Collins Center Will Help the Homeowner Prepare All Needed Documents
? The Collins Center will refer the homeowner to a government approved counseling agency, who will help them to put together all of the documents which will be needed for the mediation. The Bank will be able to review these documents prior to the mediation, including the homeowner's financial records. Once the homeowner has completed the counseling, the Collins Center may schedule the mediation.
Only Florida Supreme Court Approved Mediators May Run Your Mediation
? The Collins Center must appoint a mediator certified by the Florida Supreme Court to run the mediation.
If Bank Does Not Appear for the Mediation the Foreclosure Can Be Dismissed
? The homeowner and attorney for the Bank must be present in person at the mediation. The Bank's representative must appear in person or over the telephone. If the Bank's representative does not appear the foreclosure can be dismissed.
Full Settlement Authority By the Bank Required
? The Bank's representative must have full and complete settlement authority to approve any proposal discussed at the mediation. All conversations at the mediation are confidential and cannot be used against the homeowner later.
Mediation Agreements Are Binding
? If the parties do not reach an agreement, the Collins Center will report an "impasse" to the Court. If the parties do reach an agreement at mediation they will be bound by it. If the parties do not comply with a mediation agreement they can be penalized by the Court.
Final Foreclosure Judgments
There are strict requirements the Bank must follow if it wants a Final Judgment to be entered in its foreclosure case. There are specific documents which the Bank must file with the Court beforehand using Court-approved forms: 1) Civil Cover Sheet; 2) Plaintiff's Certification of Settlement Authority; 3) Plaintiff's Certification of Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Case Status; and 4) Final Judgment of Foreclosure. All of these forms are attached to the back of this Order 9-09, attached below. The Bank cannot change the language of any of these forms without Court permission.
Writs of Possession
Also, the Dade Court has ruled that it will not issue writs of possession without proof that all parties involved in the foreclosure have properly received or been notified of the foreclosure. A writ of possession is an order which essentially allows the sheriff to remove or evict the homeowners and other residents from the foreclosed property. Also, any writs of possession cannot violate the provisions of the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009. This Act provides, among other things, that tenants with a written lease can generally not be evicted until their lease is over. Even if tenants do not have a lease, they usually cannot be evicted until 90 days after receiving a notice to leave the property.
Each Judge at the Court will have his or her own requirements or preferences. You may view a list of Judicial photographs, together with a list of the Judges' credentials and some of their individual requirements at Judicial Photographs and Biographies, attached below. This page also includes the phone numbers for each Judge.
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