Foreclosure Mediation Program in Connecticut

If you’re behind in mortgage payments and live in Connecticut, the state's mediation program might be able to help you save your home from foreclosure.

By , Attorney · University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Some states, like Connecticut, offer homeowners who are facing a foreclosure the opportunity to participate in a foreclosure mediation program. In general terms, "mediation" is a form of alternative dispute resolution.

Connecticut established its foreclosure mediation program in 2008 in response to the record number of foreclosures happening in the state. The Connecticut legislature initially intended the mediation program to be a temporary solution to the foreclosure crisis at the time. But the program's end date has been extended several times.

The program, officially called the "Ezequiel Santiago Foreclosure Mediation Program," is now set to expire on June 30, 2029.

What Is Foreclosure Mediation?

"Foreclosure mediation" is a process in which a homeowner, the loan servicer (on the lender's behalf), and a neutral mediator get together to try to work out a loss mitigation option, like a loan modification, and avoid foreclosure.

Participating in mediation doesn't guarantee you'll be able to avoid a foreclosure. But you might be able to figure out a way to keep your home or exit the property, like by completing a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure, under terms you can live with.

How Does Foreclosure Mediation in Connecticut Work?

In Connecticut's statewide foreclosure mediation program, lenders have to participate in premediation and mediation efforts with homeowners who elect to participate in the process. The homeowner and the servicer work together with a neutral mediator who facilitates the process to resolve the mortgage delinquency.

How Premediation Works in Connecticut

If you choose to participate in mediation, you'll first go through a "premediation" process in which you'll meet with the mediator, without a lender's representative present, before the mediation occurs. (Later, at the mediation, you, the mediator, and the lender's representative will meet to try to resolve your mortgage delinquency.)

The mediator meets with you to get background information about what caused the mortgage default, your loss mitigation history, and whether you're interested in pursuing a home retention or exit option. During the premediation period, you and the lender exchange information, and the mediator reviews your completed financial forms and supporting documentation, and can also request corrections to the forms or ask for additional documentation.

The mediator will discuss possible loss mitigation options that might be available and may refer you to state or local agencies for additional assistance.

How the Foreclosure Mediation Process Works in Connecticut

At the mediation, the parties discuss the borrower's financial situation and various options to avoid foreclosure, including:

  • reinstating the mortgage loan
  • restructuring the loan with, for example, a modification or, depending on the loan type, a partial claim (a "partial claim" is an interest-free, no-payment loan to get caught up on the overdue payments)
  • liquidating the property with a sale, short sale, or deed in lieu of foreclosure, and
  • an assignment of law days. (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31m).

Who Can Participate in Connecticut's Foreclosure Mediation Program?

To qualify for foreclosure mediation in Connecticut, the servicer must have already initiated a foreclosure. In addition, you must own the property that's being foreclosed and occupy the home as your primary residence. The property has to be a one-, two-, three-, or four-family family residence located in Connecticut and, in most cases, you must be listed as a borrower on the promissory note secured by the mortgage that's being foreclosed.(Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31k).

However, permitted successors in interest may participate in the program if they meet all other eligibility requirements. (A permitted successor-in-interest is either the spouse of a deceased borrower who now holds sole title to the property through an inheritance or survivor rights in the deed; or a spouse of a borrower who became an owner through a divorce judgment or a legal separation.) (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31l, Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31k).

But actions to foreclose a tax lien or condominium lien aren't eligible for Connecticut's foreclosure mediation program.

How You'll Find Out About Mediation in Connecticut

In Connecticut, foreclosures are judicial, which means the process goes through state court. They're either a strict foreclosure or a foreclosure by sale.

The foreclosure starts when the lender's attorney files a complaint in court and then serves a copy of the complaint to the borrowers, along with a summons to appear in court. A notice about the foreclosure mediation program is included with the foreclosure complaint and summons. (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31l).

How to Opt-In to Mediation

To participate in mediation, you have to file a Foreclosure Mediation Certificate within 15 days after the return date on the summons. (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31l). (The "return date" is a date that the court sets to keep track of deadlines for activity in a case. For more information about the return date and other legal terminology, see the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch's Common Legal Words page.)

Because of the limited time frame to opt into the mediation program, it's important to consult with an attorney as soon as you're served with the foreclosure complaint if you have questions about the process or how to opt-in to the program. A lawyer can also make sure you file all required paperwork. If you miss the deadline and don't file the Foreclosure Mediation Certificate on time, you might still be able to participate in mediation, but you'll need to get permission from the court first.

You don't have to participate in mediation, but you can prolong the foreclosure process if you do. The mediation period concludes on the earlier of seven months from the case's return date or three mediation sessions unless extended or shortened by a judge for good cause. (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31n).

How Much Foreclosure Mediation Costs in Connecticut

You don't have to pay a fee to participate in Connecticut's foreclosure mediation program.

Who Must Attend the Foreclosure Mediation Session

Here's who must attend the mediation:

  • All borrowers. If mediation is elected, all borrowers must attend the mediation unless the mediator excuses a borrower for good cause, like the borrower no longer owns the home following a divorce. So, if a married couple signed the mortgage documents, then both spouses must attend the mediation. An attorney may accompany the borrowers to the mediation, but it's not a requirement. So, even if you don't have an attorney, you can still participate in mediation.
  • The lender's attorney. An attorney who attends the mediation to represent the lender must have the authority to agree to a proposed settlement. Plus, the lender (or an authorized agent thereof) must be available by telephone.
  • A foreclosure mediator. A foreclosure mediator will also attend. Foreclosure mediators in Connecticut are judicial branch employees who are trained in mediation, as well as foreclosure law, and are knowledgeable about community-based resources and mortgage assistance programs.

Each mediation session is conducted in person unless the mediator elects to conduct the mediation session on a virtual platform or grants permission to a party, or to the party's lawyer, to appear at the mediation session on a virtual platform that the mediator approves (see below). (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31l).

Required Documentation for Foreclosure Mediation in Connecticut

The borrowers generally must bring to the mediation session:

  • proof of income, if employed (typically, the two most recent paystubs or a profit and loss statement if self-employed)
  • itemization of expenses
  • copies of any completed applications for mortgage or financial assistance, and
  • any other information that might be helpful in the mediation.

How Mediation Affects a Connecticut Foreclosure Action

Foreclosure cases in the mediation program are subject to a litigation hold for up to eight months from the case's return date. (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31l). During this time, neither the borrower nor the lender may make any motion, request, or demand of the other except those relating to the mediation program—except the borrower is allowed to file an answer, special defenses, and counterclaims. If the borrower files any other motion, request, or demand regarding the lender (other than a motion to dismiss contesting the court's jurisdiction), the eight-month postponement is no longer is in effect.

The court can't enter a judgment against the borrower unless the mediation period expires or ends, and if less than eight months elapse after the return date, it has been 15 days from the termination date, and there isn't a pending motion or request to extend the mediation period. (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31l).

When Connecticut's Foreclosure Mediation Program Ends

A Connecticut law passed in 2021 extended the state's foreclosure mediation program's end date until June 30, 2029. So, the mediation program applies to foreclosure actions that have a return date up to June 30, 2029. (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31l).

Previously, the program was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2023.

Should You Participate in Connecticut's Foreclosure Mediation Program?

According to a report, 26,481 premediation meetings and 67,777 mediation sessions were held in Connecticut from July 1, 2013 to December 31, 2020. (However, meetings and sessions weren't scheduled or held from March 19, 2020 through the end of the reporting period because of the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Homeowners in 14,918 cases completed mediation and, in 74% of those cases, the parties reached agreements resulting in the borrowers keeping their homes. In another 17% of cases, agreements were reached allowing homeowners to leave their homes as the result of a sale, short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or negotiated departure date. So, altogether, the program's settlement rate was 91%. These results mean you've got a decent chance of avoiding foreclosure if you participate in and complete the program.

Even if mediation doesn't help you avoid a foreclosure, it doesn't hurt to participate, and you might be able to buy yourself some extra time to remain in the home without making any payments.

Getting Help

In Connecticut, again, the foreclosure mediation specialists are employees of the state's judicial branch. They're trained in mediation and federal and state foreclosure laws. They also know about different community-based resources and mortgage assistance programs that could be available to help homeowners facing foreclosure. Most of the mediators are lawyers who have years of mediation experience—but they don't represent either party in the process and they can't give legal advice. (Conn Gen. Stat. § 49-31m).

So, while you don't have to hire a lawyer to represent you in your foreclosure mediation, it's often a good idea. A lawyer can give you legal advice specific to your situation and advocate on your behalf, helping you negotiate a way to avoid foreclosure. A lawyer will also ensure that your legal rights are protected in the process. Also, if you're thinking about filing a response to the foreclosure lawsuit, or any other motion with the court, consider talking to an attorney beforehand to discuss the consequences of doing so and your various options.

You might also consider consulting with a HUD-approved housing counselor to learn more about foreclosure avoidance options.

For more information on Connecticut's foreclosure mediation program, go to the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch website.

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