Indiana homeowners in foreclosure proceedings filed after June 30, 2009, have the right to request a settlement conference with their mortgage lender pursuant to Indiana Code 32-30-10.5, et seq. Through the “Back Home in Indiana-Guiding Homeowners Through Foreclosure” training program (launched in March of 2009) over 1,100 attorneys, judges, and mediators received foreclosure prevention training in order to facilitate these settlement conferences. However, few Indiana homeowners in foreclosure have taken advantage of their right to request a settlement conference.
In an effort to increase the number of settlement conferences in Indiana foreclosure proceedings, the Division of State Court Administration and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority launched a pilot program in Allen County in January 2010 that creates a system for coordinating settlement conferences on a county or district-wide basis. The number of settlement conferences in Allen County appears to have increased by instituting an opt-out, rather than opt-in procedure. Judge Nancy Boyer of Allen Superior Court sent out an “Order for Telephone Conference” in each foreclosure proceeding filed since January 1, 2010. During the telephone conference, the facilitator explains what a settlement conference is, and asks the borrower if they would like to participate in a settlement conference. Therefore, a settlement conference is conducted unless the borrower declines.
Several judges in St. Joseph, Marion, and Monroe counties are working to launch their settlement conference programs. If successful, this opt-out procedure may be implemented on a state-wide basis.