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Coronavirus: Mortgage and Foreclosure

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Mortgage Information

The Department has issued a directive to New York State mortgage servicers to provide 90-day mortgage relief to mortgage borrowers impacted by the Coronavirus. The directive includes forbearance of mortgage payments based on financial hardship.

If you are experiencing a financial hardship due to Coronavirus and think you may not be able to make your mortgage payments:
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Most mortgage servicers are offering relief to homeowners. Some options include short-term “forbearances” during which payments are paused, to be repaid later. Others include long-term changes to mortgage terms. Some homeowners will benefit from a combination of short- and long-term options. Every servicer works a little bit differently, so use the instructions below to find out what options are available to you.

CONTACT YOUR SERVICER and explain your situation. You’ll find their contact information on your most recent mortgage statement. Some servicers may also provide relief through their website. Check your statement and any recent communications from your servicer for more information.

ASK YOUR SERVICER about what options are available to customers impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing a hardship. These questions might help you in your conversation with them:

  • Does your company offer a forbearance/hardship program?
  • How long does the forbearance/hardship program last?
  • What are the criteria to apply for forbearance or hardship?
  • Is there a difference between forbearance, deferral or hardship?
  • How long does it take for a forbearance/hardship to take effect?
  • Will fees (i.e. late, overdraft) be assessed while I’m in forbearance/hardship?
  • How is interest being calculated while I’m in forbearance/hardship?
  • How is my account reported to the credit bureaus while I’m in forbearance/hardship?
  • When will my forborne payments be due?
  • Will I have the option to spread out repayments of my forborne payments, using a repayment plan or by modifying my loan, or will I have to pay them all at once?

UNDERSTAND THE DETAILS of any agreement between you and your servicer. Consider:

  • Asking for written documentation of the terms of the agreement.
  • Thinking about what additional options are available to help you afford and keep your home (often referred to as “loss mitigation”).
  • Following up with your servicer to start the loss mitigation process as soon as possible.
  • Familiarizing yourself with your rights under the Department’s Part 419, the Department’s Emergency Part 119, Regulation Z and Regulation X.

FIGURE OUT THE BEST OPTION for you going forward.

  • Consult with an attorney - If you do not have an attorney, the New York State Bar Association may be able to refer you to an appropriate attorney for your situation. If you cannot afford a private attorney, you may qualify for free legal assistance. If you are low income, you can search for a nonprofit legal aid organization near you via the Legal Service Corporation website or via LawHelp.org, an online directory of free legal service providers in New York. New York’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) may also be able to connect you with mortgage assistance programs and free, qualified legal services. Call the HOPP hotline at (855) 464-3456 or visit homeownerhelpny.com. If you are unsure of how to proceed, call the DFS Foreclosure Relief Hotline at (800) 269-0990 for assistance.
  • Talk to a housing counselor - Housing counselors can give you advice on your options and resources at little or no cost. They may also be able to negotiate with your servicer for free and help you find free legal services in your area. Find an approved not-for-profit housing counselor in your area.
  • Homeowners seeking counseling or advice can also call the 24-hour toll free HOPE NOW HOTLINE at 888-995-HOPE (888-995-4673). HOPE NOW is an alliance of HUD approved counseling agents, servicers, investors and mortgage servicers that provide free assistance.
  • If you live in New York City, you can also call the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN) at 311 or 646-786-0888. CNYCN partners with more than 50 agencies and coordinates foreclosure prevention and intervention services in all five boroughs. CNYCN can help you find the right services for your needs.
If You Are Already in Default on Your Mortgage:
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CONTACT YOUR SERVICER and explain your situation. You’ll find their contact information on your most recent mortgage statement.

DISCUSS OPTIONS with your servicer for what may be available to customers impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing a hardship.

FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH YOUR RIGHTS under the Department’s Part 419, the Department’s Emergency Part 119, Regulation Z and Regulation X.

FIGURE OUT THE BEST OPTION for you going forward.

  • Consult with an attorney - If you do not have an attorney, the New York State Bar Association may be able to refer you to an appropriate attorney for your situation. If you cannot afford a private attorney, you may qualify for free legal assistance. If you are low income, you can search for a nonprofit legal aid organization near you via the Legal Service Corporation website or via LawHelp.org, an online directory of free legal service providers in New York. New York’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) may also be able to connect you with mortgage assistance programs and free, qualified legal services. Call the HOPP hotline at (855) 464-3456 or visit homeownerhelpny.com. If you are unsure of how to proceed, call the DFS Foreclosure Relief Hotline at (800) 269-0990 for assistance.
  • Talk to a housing counselor - Housing counselors can give you advice on your options and resources at little or no cost. They may also be able to negotiate with your servicer for free and help you find free legal services in your area. Find an approved not-for-profit housing counselor in your area.
  • Homeowners seeking counseling or advice can also call the 24-hour toll free HOPE NOW HOTLINE at 888-995-HOPE (888-995-4673). HOPE NOW is an alliance of HUD approved counseling agents, servicers, investors and mortgage servicers that provide free assistance.
  • If you live in New York City, you can also call the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN) at 311 or 646-786-0888. CNYCN partners with more than 50 agencies and coordinates foreclosure prevention and intervention services in all five boroughs. CNYCN can help you find the right services for your needs.
If You Are Already in Foreclosure:
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You are only in foreclosure if you have been “served” with court papers called a “Summons and Complaint” or you have already appeared in court. You may have received notices that you are at risk of foreclosure, but until you receive court paper, no foreclosure action has started. New York State courts have stopped all non-essential cases, including foreclosures. There may be things you can do outside of court to help you keep your home. The instructions below are intended to direct you to some valuable resources.

CONTACT YOUR SERVICER and explain your situation. You’ll find their contact information on your most recent mortgage statement. If you have been working with a lawyer during your foreclosure, have your lawyer contact the servicer for you.

DISCUSS OPTIONS with your servicer for what may be available to customers impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing a hardship. These questions might help you in your conversation with them:

  • Does your company offer consumers a postponement of foreclosure and eviction proceedings?
  • How will my account be reported to the credit bureaus during a postponement?

FIGURE OUT THE BEST OPTION for you going forward.

  • Consult with an attorney - If you do not have an attorney, the New York State Bar Association may be able to refer you to an appropriate attorney for your situation. If you cannot afford a private attorney, you may qualify for free legal assistance. If you are low income, you can search for a nonprofit legal aid organization near you via the Legal Service Corporation website or via LawHelp.org, an online directory of free legal service providers in New York. New York’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) may also be able to connect you with mortgage assistance programs and free, qualified legal services. Call the HOPP hotline at (855) 464-3456 or visit homeownerhelpny.com. If you are unsure of how to proceed, call the DFS Foreclosure Relief Hotline at (800) 269-0990 for assistance.
  • Talk to a housing counselor - Housing counselors can give you advice on your options and resources at little or no cost. They may also be able to negotiate with your servicer for free and help you find free legal services in your area. Find an approved not-for-profit housing counselor in your area.
  • Homeowners seeking counseling or advice can also call the 24-hour toll free HOPE NOW HOTLINE at 888-995-HOPE (888-995-4673). HOPE NOW is an alliance of HUD approved counseling agents, servicers, investors and mortgage servicers that provide free assistance.
  • If you live in New York City, you can also call the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN) at 311 or 646-786-0888. CNYCN partners with more than 50 agencies and coordinates foreclosure prevention and intervention services in all five boroughs. CNYCN can help you find the right services for your needs.
If You Are Concerned About Your Credit Rating:
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There are ways to protect your credit score while you are experiencing financial hardship. Credit scores are based on credit reports created by information that your lenders and servicers submit to credit reporting agencies. To ensure your mortgage servicer correctly reports your mortgage in a way that does not harm your credit score CONTACT YOUR SERVICER and explain your situation. You’ll find their contact information on your most recent bill.

After talking to your servicer about your situation, if you request relief, you may learn that they will place your accounts in forbearance/hardship or deferral. These are common methods servicers use to report accounts to the credit reporting agencies.

Your servicer may report to credit reporting agencies that you are in a forbearance or deferral, but that will have NO NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR CREDIT SCORE.

CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT to ensure your mortgage was properly reported by requesting a free credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report every twelve months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

CONTACT YOUR SERVICER and explain your situation. You’ll find their contact information on your most recent mortgage statement.

DISCUSS OPTIONS with your servicer for what may be available to customers impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing hardship. These questions may help you in your conversation with them:

  • Does your company offer an additional 90-day grace period to complete trial loan modifications;
  • How will late payments impact my ability to receive a permanent modification?
  • How will my account be reported to the credit bureaus during a grace period?

UNDERSTAND THE DETAILS of the agreement between you and your servicer. Consider:

FIGURE OUT THE BEST OPTION for you going forward.

  • Consult with an attorney - If you do not have an attorney, the New York State Bar Association may be able to refer you to an appropriate attorney for your situation. If you cannot afford a private attorney, you may qualify for free legal assistance. If you are low income, you can search for a nonprofit legal aid organization near you via the Legal Service Corporation website or via LawHelp.org, an online directory of free legal service providers in New York. New York’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) may also be able to connect you with mortgage assistance programs and free, qualified legal services. Call the HOPP hotline at (855) 464-3456 or visit homeownerhelpny.com. If you are unsure of how to proceed, call the DFS Foreclosure Relief Hotline at (800) 269-0990 for assistance.
  • Talk to a housing counselor - Housing counselors can give you advice on your options and resources at little or no cost. They may also be able to negotiate with your servicer for free and help you find free legal services in your area. Find an approved not-for-profit housing counselor in your area.
  • Homeowners seeking counseling or advice can also call the 24-hour toll free HOPE NOW HOTLINE at 888-995-HOPE (888-995-4673). HOPE NOW is an alliance of HUD approved counseling agents, servicers, investors and mortgage servicers that provide free assistance.
  • If you live in New York City, you can also call the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN) at 311 or 646-786-0888. CNYCN partners with more than 50 agencies and coordinates foreclosure prevention and intervention services in all five boroughs. CNYCN can help you find the right services for your needs.

FAQs

What documents will be required to get approved for a forbearance?

There is no specific set of documents that every servicer requires for a forbearance so the best course of action is always to speak directly to your servicer and ask for a detailed list of requirements. Documents like pay stubs, unemployment paperwork, employer letters and bank statements are the types of things you should make sure to hang on to. Such documents may help with the forbearance process, as well as any resulting loss mitigation.

Will I have to repay any missed or forborne payments all at once?

A forborne payment differs from a deferred payment in that a forborne payment becomes due at the end of the forbearance period, at which time, you must negotiate the terms of repayment. If you are unable to fully repay the forborne amount at the end of the forbearance period you should speak to your servicer as soon as possible to discuss loss mitigation options. Some examples include:

  • Partial repayment over the course of the life of the loan (resulting in increased monthly payments)
  • Extending the term of the loan (resulting in a later maturity date)

Once you have spoken with your servicer regarding your options, you may wish to reach out to a free housing counselor or attorney.

What if I was already in default on my mortgage—do I still have options?

Yes. But to take advantage of any existing options, you must contact your servicer as soon as possible and make them aware that you have been impacted by COVID-19. Once you have spoken with your servicer regarding your options, you may wish to reach out to a housing counselor or attorney.

I can still afford my mortgage—is there any benefit to me asking for relief?

If you are not experiencing a hardship making your mortgage payments you should continue to do so, however everyone’s situation is slightly different, and it is important to speak to your servicer and a housing counselor or attorney before making any decisions regarding your loan. Once you have educated yourself on what specific options are available to you and the potential impact of such options, you can work with a housing counselor or attorney to determine the best option for your situation.

Are there any fees associated with getting a forbearance?

No. A servicer may not charge any fees to a consumer for entering into a forbearance agreement, but keep in mind that any repayment plan or other type of modification of your loan may result in added costs. Make sure to ask your servicer what foreseeable costs may be associated with getting your loan back on track after the forbearance period.

What should I do if my mortgage doesn’t qualify for the relief that Governor Cuomo announced?

While many options are available to consumers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, Emergency regulation Part 119 does not apply to loans insured or owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA or USDA. Instead, it applies only to loans serviced by an entity licensed or chartered by the Department of Financial Services. Use the following links to determine whether your loan is insured or owned by a government entity or if the institution that services your loan is chartered or licensed by the Department: 

Other than Emergency regulation Part 119, what other relief may be available to consumers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19? What is the CARES Act?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act is a federal stimulus package aimed at providing COVID-19 related relief. For consumers with a “federally-backed” mortgage, the CARES Act provides a foreclosure moratorium of at least 60 days starting on March 18, 2020. This includes the initiation of new foreclosures as well as the continuation of foreclosures that had already been initiated; this does not include vacant or abandoned properties. You are also provided with the right to request and receive forbearance on their mortgage payments for up to 6 months, with the option to extend for an additional 6 months (total max of 1 year), as well as the option to discontinue the forbearance at any time. During the forbearance period, servicers are prohibited from charging fees or interest beyond what the borrower would have had to pay if they were making their payments as scheduled. Use the following links for additional information regarding available relief and eligibility criteria:

I have a reverse mortgage—can I get the help that Governor Cuomo announced?

Yes, a reverse mortgage is eligible for the same relief as a more traditional, forward mortgage loan.  Please consult with your servicer to learn what specific options may be available to you.

I have a mortgage for my condo—can I get the help that Governor Cuomo announced?

Yes, a mortgage for a condo is eligible for the same relief as a more traditional mortgage loan. Please consult with your servicer to learn what specific options may be available to you.

I have a mortgage for a co-op—can I get the help that Governor Cuomo announced?

Yes, a mortgage for a coop is eligible for the same relief as a more traditional mortgage loan. Please consult with your servicer to learn what specific options may be available to you.

Where can I find information on my rights under state and federal law?

Homeowner’s rights can be found in many places in the law. Please always consult with an attorney or housing counselor to ensure that you are aware of all of your rights, but below are links to the most relevant laws:

If you do not have an attorney, the New York State Bar Association may be able to refer you to an appropriate attorney for your situation. If you cannot afford a private attorney, you may qualify for free legal assistance. If you are low income, you can search for a nonprofit legal aid organization near you via the Legal Service Corporation website or via LawHelp.org, an online directory of free legal service providers in New York. New York’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) may also be able to connect you with mortgage assistance programs and free, qualified legal services. Call the HOPP hotline at (855) 464-3456 or visit homeownerhelpny.com. If you are unsure of how to proceed, call the DFS Foreclosure Relief Hotline at (800) 269-0990 for assistance.

What impact will the relief announced by the Governor have on my escrow account if I escrow my property taxes and insurance?

Borrowers whose escrow payment are included in their monthly mortgage payments are not required to make a separate payment to cover escrow. However, if payments become due for taxes and insurance during the forbearance period, the servicer may advance the funds, possibly resulting in an escrow shortfall at the end of the forbearance period.


Watch Out For Scams

Scams often increase during a crisis or after a disaster. Scammers often use current events, like government announcements about relief programs, to appear legitimate. Be careful about accepting assistance from anyone other than your servicer, the government, and legitimate non-profit organizations. Here are some suggestions for how to avoid scams and what to do if you find yourself in a scam.

BEWARE of anyone who:

  • asks for an upfront fee in exchange for mortgage assistance. New York law prohibits the collection of such fees in most cases.
  • says they can “save” your home if you sign or transfer the deed to your house over to them in exchange for mortgage assistance.

NEVER submit your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage company without their approval.

CONSULT with a trusted source such as:

  • Government – If someone says they are working on behalf of a government program, lookup the program on the Internet and call them directly to confirm. Just because the program exists does not mean that the scammer really works for the government.
  • Attorney - If you do not have a lawyer, call the New York State Bar Association Lawyer Referral Program at (800) 342-3661 to find one. If you do not think you can afford a lawyer, you may qualify for free legal assistance. For more information, you can call the Legal Aid office in your area or call our Foreclosure Relief Hotline at (800) 269-0990 for assistance in locating free legal services in your area.
  • Housing Counselor - Housing counselors can give you advice on your options and resources at little or no cost. They may also be able to negotiate with your servicer for free and help you find free legal services in your area. Find an approved not-for-profit housing counselor in your area.
  • Homeowners seeking counseling or advice can also call the 24-hour toll free HOPE NOW HOTLINE at 888-995-HOPE (888-995-4673). HOPE NOW is an alliance of HUD approved counseling agents, servicers, investors and mortgage servicers that provide free assistance. If you live in New York City, you can also call the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN) at 311 or 646-786-0888. CNYCN partners with more than 50 agencies and coordinates foreclosure prevention and intervention services in all five boroughs. CNYCN can help you find the right services for your needs.

STAY INFORMED by visiting the official websites of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), and the DFS Foreclosure Scams page.

Remember, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.

Legal Resources

Government Resources