Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
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Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING CALLS ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO FURTHER HELP HOMEOWNERS AFFECTED BY COVID-19
~ Herring joins bipartisan coalition of 35 attorneys general in calling on the FHFA and HUD to take further actions to help with relief for Americans who cannot make their mortgage payments because of COVID-19 ~
RICHMOND (April 23, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring and a bipartisan coalition of 35 attorneys general are urging the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to take actions to help homeowners who have been affected by COVID-19 and the disruption to the mortgage market. The coalition calls for further protections for homeowners in addition to the forbearance and foreclosure relief provided by the CARES Act.
"Tens of thousands of Virginians have found themselves in tough financial situations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, oftentimes affecting their ability to pay their mortgages in a timely manner,” said Attorney General Herring. "In this unprecedented time, we must take more steps to provide immediate relief to Virginia borrowers and help them stay in their homes.”
As part of the CARES Act, FHFA and HUD have already adopted streamlined processes for borrowers who have been affected by COVID-19 to enter into forbearance plans, which allow borrowers to pause mortgage payments for a limited period of time. Currently, once the forbearance period ends, borrowers are being asked to either repay the missed payments in a lump sum or enter into a more permanent loss mitigation solution.
Because an unprecedented number of borrowers will need help at essentially the same time, the letters recommend moving the missed payments to the back of the loan term. That would allow immediate relief for homeowners and reduce borrower confusion and concern while simultaneously limiting the strain on the mortgage servicing industry.
In the letters, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues recommend:
- FHFA and HUD should issue guidance revising their forbearance programs so that forborne payments are automatically placed at the end of the loan's term;
- FHFA and HUD should expand eligibility for disaster relief loss mitigation programs; and
- FHFA and HUD should clarify that the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions applies to all aspects of the foreclosure or eviction process. That includes issuing pre-foreclosure and acceleration notices, posting or publishing any notices, filing or proceeding with motions beyond continuances, or taking any other foreclosure or eviction actions during the moratorium.
The protection of the CARES Act applies only to federally backed mortgages, which make up approximately 62 percent of the mortgage market. Borrowers who are not covered should contact their mortgage servicers to determine whether they are offering any relief during the pandemic.
Are you eligible for relief?
If you have a federally backed mortgage, you have the right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days if you have a financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. You also have the right to request one extension for up to another 180 days.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a guide to coronavirus mortgage relief options on its website. To determine whether you are eligible for a forbearance plan or other assistance:
- First find out who services your mortgage and whether you have a federally backed mortgage. See tips from CFPB or go to FannieMae or Freddie Mac's look up tool.
- If you do not have an eligible mortgage, your servicer or financial institution may be offering relief to borrowers. Call your servicer and let them know your situation immediately. Ask them what "forbearance” or "hardship” options may be available.
Keep in mind that forbearance doesn't erase what you owe. You still must repay any missed or reduced payments in the future. If you are able, continue making your mortgage payments to avoid falling behind once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
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