Today, the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Residential Foreclosure Cases issued their final report. While the report is over 50 pages in length, they are making a number of very important recommendations that should help Florida homeowners.
Specifically, they are requiring mandatory mediation for all homestead property in every county in the State of Florida. Right now, only a few counties including Miami Dade and Palm Beach County have mandatory medication. The report states that in those counties where there has been mandatory mediation, approximately 75 percent of all cases are settled in mediation. Further, the Task Force is recommending that there be pre-suit mediation in order to reduce the clogging of the court system. The Task Force is also requiring that the banks– not the borrowers— pay for the mandatory mediation.
The Report also mentioned that mortgage modifications are becoming more effective. In fact, they mention that in those loans that have recently been modified, there has been a drop in the re-default rate by 31 percent. Further, they indicated that loan modifications overall increased 55 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009 and increased 173 percent over the past year.
The Task Force also took great issue with a number of tactics that have been used by the banks’ attorneys. Specifically, in relevant part, the Task Force stated: “A leading plaintiff’s lawyer and a major plaintiff’s law firm have been the subject of a public reprimand and sanctions due to untruthful filings with the courts. Judges continue to see affidavits of amounts due and owing signed by law firm employees, and cost affidavits charging very high service of process fees for process serving firms owned by the law firm principals. To some extent, it is fair to be concerned whether the press of the caseload is interfering with a judge’s ability to police the conduct of the firms before them in these usually uncontested, unopposed foreclosure cases.”