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District Of Columbia Adopts Foreclosure Mediation Process

by Victoria VanBuren
November 2010

From the Disputing Blog of Karl Bayer, Victoria VanBuren, and Holly Hayes.

Victoria VanBuren

Another United States jurisdiction has adopted a mediation process to address the ongoing foreclosure crisis. The District of Columbia (D.C.) Council approved the “Saving D.C. Homes from Foreclosure Act of 2010,” earlier this month. The measure requires lenders to participate in six months of mediation with a homeowner prior to foreclosure. According to the Washington Post:

Mediation allows the borrower and the lender’s representative to negotiate, with the guidance of an impartial go-between, over possible alternatives to a foreclosure, such as a loan modification. But neither side can be compelled to agree to a mediated solution.

The District Mayor signed the Act into law on Thursday. The new requirement, managed by D.C.’s Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, will affect more than 3,000 homes currently in foreclosure. Unlike other jurisdictions, D.C. does not require the courts to review foreclosure cases. Consequently, the foreclosure process can proceed quite quickly.

Under the new law, a lender seeking to foreclose on a delinquent homeowner must notify the homeowner of the option to participate in mediation when a “Notice of Default” is sent. DS News magazine reports:

The borrower must opt to participate in the mediation process within 30 days of receiving the information in the mail, by returning the necessary forms and paying a $50 fee.

A mediation administrator will schedule a mediation session soon after the borrower opts into the program. The mediation session will be conducted by the administrator and the lender and borrower or their representatives must attend the meeting. The lender will be charged fines of $500 for missing the meeting or failing to bring required documents.

If the borrower misses the meeting, the matter will be terminated and lenders may proceed with the foreclosure.

D.C.’s new law follows closely behind a foreclosure mediation law implemented on July 1st in neighboring Maryland. Maryland’s law requires a lender pursuing foreclosure to send the homeowner a “Request for Mediation” form when it starts court proceedings. After that, “Homeowners have 15 days in which to file the request with the Circuit Court and must pay a non-refundable fee of $50.”

The entire Washington Post article may be read here and the DS News magazine article may be read here.

Disputing has discussed foreclosure mediation programs in several states recently including Nevada, Connecticut, Florida and Hawaii.

Biography


Victoria VanBuren holds a B.B.A. in Finance from Southern Methodist University and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.  She focuses on intellectual property law and arbitration. Known as a "worker bee," she is an active legal blogger and is currently pursuing a degree in computer science. Prior to joining the team at Karl Bayer, Victoria worked at a boutique intellectual property law firm in Austin. She is well versed in computer hardware and programming languages: Assembly, C/C++, HTML, XHTML, XML, Perl, JavaScript, and PHP.

While in law school, Victoria was a Graduate Research Assistant for Professor John S. Dzienkowski, from The University of Texas at Austin. She was responsible for selecting cases for inclusion in the textbook International Petroleum Transactions. Victoria was particularly involved in researching the areas of international business litigation and arbitration. She also performed extensive research on political and economic risks within the context of international licensing agreements.

Having lived and studied in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S., Victoria brings a unique perspective to Karl Bayer. Right after high school, Victoria moved to Canada to study English and French. Born and raised in Mexico, she is a native Spanish speaker and a graduate of the Monterrey Institute of Technology (Instituto Tecnologico y the Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), where she concentrated in Physics and Mathematics.

Professional Activities

- American Bar Association, Young Lawyers
- American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)
- Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN)
- National Hispanic Bar Association (NHBA)
- State Bar of Texas, Intellectual Property



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