In response to the ongoing foreclosure crisis in this country, many states have implemented mediation programs to assist borrowers in finding ways to avoid foreclosure. If you are a homeowner facing foreclosure in the District of Columbia, you may be eligible to participate in the district's foreclosure mediation program.
Read on to learn more about how the Washington D.C. mediation program works and how you may be able to benefit from the process.
What Is Foreclosure Mediation?
Foreclosure mediation is a process that is used to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Mediation consists of a face-to-face meeting between:
- the borrowers
- their lender (or the lender’s representative), and
- an impartial third-party (the mediator).
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 foreclosure mediation include:
- loan modification
- payment arrangement
- forbearance agreement
- short sale, or
- deed in lieu of foreclosure. (To get information about each of these options, see our Alternatives to Foreclosure area.)
The District of Columbia’s Foreclosure Mediation Program
In 2010, Washington, D.C. established a program to provide certain homeowners in nonjudicial foreclosures with the right to mediation. (If a lender chooses to pursue a judicial foreclosure, it does not have to offer mediation. Learn more about judicial v. nonjudicial foreclosures.)
The program is open to owners of residential properties located in the District of Columbia if:
- the property is a single-family home, a condominium, a cooperative unit, or other form of real property with four or fewer single-family dwellings (such as a duplex)
- the property is your principal place of residence (or your immediate family's principal residence), and
- you have received a Notice of Default on Residential Mortgage (NOD). (Learn more about general foreclosure laws and procedures in the District of Columbia.)
When you receive the NOD, you will also receive a mediation election form so you can opt in to the program.
You’ll also get:
- contact information for a representative of the lender who can explain the mediation process
- a recommendation that you seek housing counseling services (as well as contact information for at least one local HUD-approved housing counseling agency)
- a description of all loss mitigation programs that the lender offers (along with the eligibility requirements for those programs)
- a loss mitigation application (and instructions for how to complete and submit the application), and
- an envelope addressed to the lender and an envelope addressed to the mediation administrator so you can easily submit your documentation.
How to Opt in to the District of Columbia Mediation Program
You may elect to participate in mediation by submitting the following items to the mediation administrator (using the pre-addressed envelope provided along with the NOD) within 30 days after the date the NOD was mailed:
- an original, completed mediation election form
- a loss mitigation application, and
- a non-refundable fee of $50.
In addition, you must mail copies of the mediation form and the completed loss mitigation application to your lender in the other pre-addressed envelope that was provided along with the NOD.
How the Foreclosure Mediation Program Works
If you choose to participate in the program, the mediation must take place within 45 days after the mailing of the NOD and conclude within 90 days, unless the parties agree to an extension of up to 30 days.
The lender cannot proceed with the foreclosure until the process is complete and the mediation administrator issues a certificate. However, if you fail to act in good faith in the mediation (for example, by not showing up to the meeting), the lender will be allowed to proceed with the foreclosure.
How to Find D.C.’s Foreclosure Mediation Law
The foreclosure mediation statute can be found at D.C. Code § 42-815.02.
Should You Participate in the Foreclosure Mediation Program?
There have been some reports that Washington, D.C.’s foreclosure mediation program doesn’t effectively protect homeowners. However, even though taking part in the program does not guarantee that a foreclosure will be avoided, it doesn't hurt to participate. The lender may be more likely to agree to a nonforeclosure solution during 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.
For More Information
For more information on the District of Columbia’s foreclosure mediation program, go to the District of Columbia’s “Information for Homeowners” Webpage.