Recently, as of April 1, 2013, the New Jersey Mediation Program has been modified. In New Jersey, the mediation program is offered to homeowners who have filed an answer and are contesting a foreclosure as well as to those homeowners who fail to make a formal appearance. The property in foreclosure must be the primary residence of the homeowner and must be a one-four family residential property.
The modified notification process will begin with actions filed on or after April 1, 2013. The notice provided by plaintiff’s/banks in foreclosure actions must announce the following:
- Free foreclosure mediation.
- Request for mediation will not stop the progress of foreclosure actions.
- Mediation will be scheduled when a complete Foreclosure Mediation Financial Worksheet and a Borrower Instructions Mediation Request Statement form are returned to the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).
- Additional forms and information are available on the Judiciary’s Web site, njcourts.com.
There are two primary modifications made to the New Jersey Mediation Program. The first modification is that the notice of mediation must be served with the summons and complaint. Previously it was required to be served with the summons and compliant, 60 days after the complaint was filed, as well as the final judgment application, which is no longer required. The Borrowers Instructions Mediation Request Statement form must also include a certification to be signed by a homeowner stating that the property is a one-to-three family residence, is the homeowner’s primary residence and the homeowner is the borrower. If this form is sent to the AOC, it will trigger the scheduling of a mediation. Plaintiffs must still provide a certification that the notice of foreclosure mediation availability was served with the summons and complaint upon filing a request for entry of judgment.
The second modification is with respect to the timing of requests for mediation by defendants. In cases filed after April 1, 2013, defendants must request foreclosure mediation within 60 days of the service of the summons and complaint. Requests made after 60 days from service must be on notice and motion upon a judge’s approval.