A court rule that was recently adopted by the Dane County Circuit Court Judge will implement a foreclosure mediation program. The law now requires that plaintiffs in a foreclosure action (who will be the lenders or banks) to provide homeowners (defendants) with notice of this program. The lender will need to provide a court-approved form announcing the foreclosure mediation program’s existence. If a homeowner who is facing a foreclosure requests mediation and if the bank or lender also agrees to participate, a formal mediation session will be performed. The session will be overseen by volunteer mediators that will be provided by the Dane County Bar Association.
Details of the The Dane County Foreclosure Mediation Program
Several organizations have partnered together to provide this option. The program is being managed by the University of Wisconsin Law School. Additional support will be provided from the Dane County Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce. There are some conditions in order to participate, and one of the key requirements for participation in the mediation program is that the home must be owner-occupied. Another key criteria is that homeowners who are wishing to participate and take part in a session need to also agree to meet with a volunteer housing counselor prior to mediation, as the counselor will help ensure they have the skills and tools necessary to become self-sufficient over the long term, and keep up with future monthly payments.
For those who are unfamiliar with mediation, it is a confidential dispute-resolution process that usually involves negotiation. A neutral third party (the mediator) will help the lender and homeowner reach some type of agreement that is a win-win for both parties. It will focus on the key issues in the case, and help people come up with some type of solution. They may agree to a loan modification, forbearance, or some other type of mortgage solution. The mediator will be sure that both people exchange information and explore all options for some type of settlement.
Dane County’s program was based on a successful program that was organized by the Milwaukee Foreclosure Partnership Initiative, the City of Milwaukee Wisconsin, and Marquette University. The Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office also fully supports the foreclosure mediation program.
A major sponsor and a key participant is the Dane County Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce. This is made up of a coalition of non-profit service providers, government agencies, and other community partners, all of whom are working to implement a coordinated response to the foreclosure problem in Dane County through mediation, prevention, intervention, counseling, and neighborhood stabilization efforts. The local foreclosure mediation program a top priority for this year.
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