In response to the foreclosure crisis, several counties in Illinois—Cook, Will, Peoria, Madison, Bond, McLean, Lake, Boone, Winnebago, and Kane—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, and Kane offer mediation programs. Below you can find information about the programs in a many of these counties.
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) 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.
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 given a financial questionnaire. The questionnaire gives the mediator basic financial information, and the mediator then makes an initial determination about whether a loan modification is likely. If a loan modification is not likely, other options may be discussed at this time.
If there is a reasonable possibility that your lender might agree to a foreclosure alternative, the case will be continued (postponed) to a later date. This gives you time to fill out a loss mitigation application (an application for a foreclosure alternative) and provides time for the lender to evaluate your application. For more information, go to the Will County website.
Peoria county has a foreclosure mediation process. Go to the Peoria County website and click on "Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program Rules" for more information.
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.
Homeowners are eligible for this no-cost program if the property is their primary residence. Go to the Madison county website for more information.
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. Foreclosure of non-residential or commercial property are not eligible for the program. Go to the McLean County website to get more information about the mediation program.
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.
Go to the Lake County website to get more information about the mediation program.
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.
You must submit a completed application within 21 days of being served a foreclosure summons and complaint. Find out more about the Boone and Winnebago foreclosure mediation program here.
Kane County has a free residential foreclosure mediation program. Learn more at the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit's website.
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.