In response to the ongoing foreclosure crisis in this country, several counties in Illinois -- Cook, Will, Peoria, Madison, Bond, McLean, Lake, Boone, Winnebago, Kane, Kankakee, and St. Clair -- have have implemented mediation programs to assist borrowers in finding ways to avoid foreclosure. Read on to learn more about these mediation programs, how the mediation programs work, and how you can benefit from the process.
(To learn about other options for dealing with foreclosure, visit Nolo's Foreclosure section.)
Foreclosure mediation is a process that is used to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by coming up with an alternate solution that benefits both the borrowers and the lender. Mediation consists of a meeting between:
At the meeting, the parties discuss the borrower's financial situation and try to negotiate a way for the homeowner to keep the home or give up the property without going through a foreclosure. By working together, the parties are often able to reach an agreement.
Potential outcomes of mediation include (often called loss mitigation options):
(To get information about each of these options, see our Alternatives to Foreclosure area.)
In Illinois, foreclosures are judicial, which means the lender must foreclose through the state court system. The lender initiates the foreclosure by filing a complaint (sometimes called a petition) and having it served on the borrower, along with a summons to appear in court. To learn more about the difference between judicial and nonjudicial foreclosure, and the procedures for each, see Will Your Foreclosure Take Place In or Out of Court?
To learn about the specific foreclosure laws in Illinois, see Summary of Illinois' Foreclosure Laws.
The counties of Cook, Will, Peoria, Madison, Bond, McLean, Lake, Boone, Winnebago, Kane, Kankakee, and St. Clair offer mediation programs. Below you can find information about the programs in a many of these counties. (New mediation programs are continuously being developed. If you're facing a foreclosure in a county not listed here, be sure to check with the court in your case to find out if there is a foreclosure mediation program where you live.)
Cook County’s mediation program gives homeowners who have received a foreclosure summons access to housing counseling and legal assistance to explore ways to keep their home or negotiate a better way to give up the property.
To participate in the mediation program, homeowners must:
If you have received a foreclosure summons, you can schedule a free meeting with a housing counselor (the first step in the mediation process, which is then followed by a consultation with an attorney) by calling a toll-free help line at 877-895-2444 (312-836-5222 TDD) or by filling out an online appointment request form. There is no charge to participate in the Cook County mediation program.
If you are have not yet received a summons, but are in danger of foreclosure, you can go to www.regionalhopi.org/help to help identify available options to avoid foreclosure.
Homeowners in Will County who have been served a foreclosure summons receive a form explaining the mediation program along with the summons.
Anyone receiving a foreclosure summons for a residential mortgage foreclosure filed in the Will County Circuit Court after August 1, 2010 may participate in the program. Commercial foreclosures are not eligible.
The mediation program is free of charge for the borrowers. (An additional $150 fee is charged to the lender for every foreclosure filed in the county to cover the costs of the program.)
Along with the foreclosure summons, borrowers are automatically given a pre-mediation meeting date and a financial questionnaire. The meeting is typically scheduled between 42-60 days from the date that the foreclosure case is filed with the court. On the given date, you must go to the location provided. Mediation participants will wait in a room until the mediator calls their case.
If you cannot attend the pre-mediation meeting, there is no procedure for rescheduling the meeting. If you do not show up for the meeting, the court will be notified and the foreclosure will proceed. If you want to reschedule your mediation at that time, you must request permission from the court, which has the discretion to allow or deny the request.
In Peoria county, any complaint filed by a lender for residential foreclosure will be automatically scheduled for a mandatory pre-mediation conference within 60 days.
All foreclosure cases involving residential real estate are included in the mediation process. Along with the summons, defendant borrowers will be given a form explaining the mandatory mediation program.
Homeowners in the counties of Madison and Bond who have been served a foreclosure summons will receive a form explaining the mediation program along with the summons.
You are eligible for this free program if:
If you are interested in participating in this program, complete the Request for Mediation and financial questionnaire attached to your court notice and submit it to the Circuit Clerk’s office. You have 30 days from the time you are served with a foreclosure summons to submit the Request for Mediation and financial questionnaire to be considered for the program. After you submit the request for mediation and financial questionnaire, the program administrator will review your information and notify you and the lender as to whether your case qualifies for mediation. If you qualify, a pre-mediation conference will be scheduled for you and your lender’s attorney.
Homeowners in McLean County who have been served a foreclosure summons receive a form explaining the mediation program along with the summons.
Residential properties are eligible for mediation. Foreclosures of non-residential or commercial property are not eligible for the program.
In order to take part in the free mediation program, you must appear for a pre-mediation meeting on the date set forth in the summons given to you. You will need to bring certain financial information, including information about your income and expenses, to the pre-mediation conference so that the evaluators can determine if a loan modification is feasible. (The forms that you receive along with the complaint and summons will provide details about what documents to bring to the meeting.)
In late 2013, Lake County launched a mediation program to help homeowners facing foreclosure. To be eligible for the program, a homeowner must be involved in a residential foreclosure case filed on or after December 2, 2013.
Notices about the mediation program will be attached to the foreclosure summons.
To participate in the mediation program, you must take all of the following steps.
1. You must attend an informational session offered by
the Affordable Housing Corporation of Lake County within 35 days of receiving the
foreclosure summons. The session will explain the foreclosure process and the mediation program. Informational sessions are held at night and on weekends at the branch courts in Lake County.
2. If you decide you want to proceed with mediation, you must schedule an appointment with a housing counselor within 7 days of attending the informational session. You will receive information about how to do this at the informational session. You must attend all appointments with the counselor and meet all deadlines.
3. As part of the housing counseling, you will need to gather certain financial information and submit it to the housing counselor before you meet with the mediator and lender.
After the housing counseling process has been concluded, the mediation program coordinator will schedule an initial mediation conference. The homeowner, the homeowner’s attorney (if any), and the lender’s attorney must attend the mediation conference in person. A representative of the lender with authority to settle the case may participate in person or by phone. All court proceedings are put on hold while a case is in mediation.
The 17th Judicial Circuit Court set up and operates a Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program in Boone and Winnebago counties.
Foreclosure mediation is available in residential foreclosure cases filed on or after June 1, 2014 in Winnebago County, and in cases filed on or after November 1, 2014 in Boone County.
You must submit a completed appliation within 21 days of being served a foreclosure summons and complaint. All legal proceedings will be put on hold while you are participating in the program.
Find out more about the Boone and Winnebago foreclosure mediation program at http://nwhomestart.org/Foreclosure-Mediation.aspx.
Kane County has a Residential Foreclosure Mediation Program.
To participate in the foreclosure mediation program, you must:
To participate in Kankakee's foreclosure mediation program, you must appear for your initial mediation court date on the date and time shown in the summons.
On April 25, 2013, Attorney General Lisa Madigan awarded $5 million in grants from the national mortgage settlement to fund the creation and implementation of new mortgage foreclosure mediation programs in counties with significant needs, but without current programs. (Read more about the national mortgage settlement.)
Even though participating in a foreclosure mediation program does not guarantee that you can avoid foreclosure, it doesn't hurt to participate in the programs. No court action will be taken against you while the mediation process is ongoing and the lender may be more likely to agree to a nonforeclosure solution at a mediation than if you approach it outside of the program. Or you might qualify for a loss mitigation option that you hadn’t previously considered.
To find further information on foreclosure mediation programs in Illinois, visit www.IllinoisLegalAid.org.