As the coronavirus pandemic continues to roll across the U.S., keeping many individuals in semi-isolation, millions are already out of work for the foreseeable future and others are likely to become so. How will those suddenly without income be able to keep a roof over their heads?
The federal government and individual states are stepping in to provide protection for homeowners and renters.
On the state level, some initiatives are specifically intended to provide relief to homeowners and tenants financially impacted by COVID-19, while others—such as judicial orders suspending nonemergency civil cases including evictions and foreclosures—are aimed at protecting court personnel and the public from contamination during face-to-face hearings.
Also, some of the orders prohibiting evictions apply only to residents financially harmed by the pandemic. Landlords may be able to proceed with evictions for other causes, such as criminal activity.
The orders and suspensions are temporary and mostly tied to the end of stay-at-home and shelter-in-place periods. The orders generally only prevent landlords and lenders from executing or moving forward with law enforcement actions or, less commonly, legal proceedings that would lead to eviction or foreclosure.
Tenants and homeowners ultimately will still be responsible for making their rent and mortgage payments. Only a few jurisdictions have initiatives that go beyond temporary forbearance to potentially provide financial assistance to some homeowners and tenants.
This list highlights federal and state government initiatives in response to COVID-19.
For the most up-to-date information specific to your mortgage, contact your mortgage servicer either online or by phone. Renters are encouraged to reach out to their individual landlords to discuss their situations.
Assessing the Borrower’s Situation
As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) advises on its coronavirus mortgage relief page, the first step for an affected mortgage borrower is to determine their individual situation:
- If a borrower can pay their mortgage, then they should make the payment. If there’s not an immediate problem with paying the mortgage, it’s better for the borrower to start with the mortgage servicer’s website to see what COVID-19-specific information is available than it is to call, as the servicer is busy working with those who can’t pay this month.
- If a borrower can’t pay their mortgage, or can only make a partial payment, then they should contact their mortgage servicer immediately, and be prepared for longer call wait times than normal.
When a lender offers any mortgage forbearance or payment deferral option, it’s important for the borrower to understand the terms under which any skipped payments will be made up after the forbearance period ends. These policies will vary by institution. For example, one lender may require the missed payment(s) to be made up as soon as regular payments resume, while another lender may add the missed payment(s) onto the end of the loan term.
Federal Mortgage Relief Programs
Federally Backed Mortgages
Under the provisions of the CARES Act, individuals with federally backed mortgage loans who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 can request a forbearance period by contacting their mortgage servicer. Federally backed mortgages include FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The CARES Act provides for affected borrowers to defer their mortgage payments for up to 180 days. Borrowers also have the right to apply for an extension of another 180 days of forbearance. There will be no penalties or fees added to the account, although regular interest will still accrue.
Borrowers must contact their mortgage loan servicers to initiate this forbearance.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was ordered by President Trump on March 18 to suspend evictions and foreclosures for the next 60 days. The moratorium applies to single-family homeowners with mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a part of HUD that insures home loans made by FHA-approved lenders.
The order not only prevents new foreclosure actions but also suspends all foreclosure actions currently in process.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
According to the CFPB, nearly half of all U.S. home mortgages are owned or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan banks, is providing payment forbearance to borrowers impacted by the coronavirus for up to 12 months due to hardship. Penalties and late fees also are being waived. No delinquency related to forbearance will be reported to credit bureaus.
Additional information is available from the FHFA’s page on mortgage help for homeowners impacted by COVID-19, from Freddie Mac’s coronavirus help page and from Fannie Mae’s coronavirus help page.
Additionally, Freddie Mac has implemented a program offering relief to multifamily landlords whose mortgages are financed with a Freddie Mac multifamily fully performing loan. Under this program, landlords can defer loan payments for 90 days by showing hardship due to COVID-19; in return, landlords are required not to evict any tenant based on nonpayment of rent during the forbearance period.
Renters, Including in Public Housing
The CARES Act protects those living in various forms of public housing by providing a temporary moratorium on evictions, as well as late fees, for nonpayment of rent for 120 days beginning March 27, 2020. Landlords are not allowed to issue a notice to vacate until after the temporary moratorium period and will not be allowed to require a tenant to vacate until 30 days after the giving of the notice.
This moratorium also applies to renters in single or multifamily properties whose landlords have federally backed loans, including FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
State Mortgage Relief Programs
As of mid-April, all 50 states and the District of Columbia are implementing relief measures for homeowners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While most states are halting evictions and foreclosures during their respective state of emergency periods, mortgage and rent payments may still need to be made. These state-specific relief measures are in flux and will change over time.
Governor Kay Ivey granted temporary relief from residential evictions and foreclosures for the duration of Alabama’s state of emergency.
The Alaska legislature enacted a bill halting evictions until November.
Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order halting until July 24 evictions of renters who are quarantined or facing economic hardship due to the pandemic. The state’s Department of Housing is also offering mortgage subsidies and other assistance.
The Judicial Council of California suspended eviction and foreclosure cases until 90 days after the governor declares the state of emergency has ended. Governor Gain Newsom’s executive order is in effect through May 31, with the option of being extended, and halts evictions for both renters and homeowners. The order does not relieve a tenant from paying rent, and a landlord still has the ability to recover rent that is due. However, individuals cannot be evicted from their home for nonpayment.
As one of several state and local initiatives including actions by the governor and state courts, the Colorado Department of Public Safety is working with sheriffs, mayors and other local leaders to suspend residential evictions until April 30.
Governor Ned Lamont issued an executive order halting evictions during the crisis.
Governor John Carney ordered a halt to eviction and foreclosure proceeding during the crisis, that is, “until the state of emergency is terminated, and the public health emergency is rescinded.” Utility companies have also been asked not to terminate services during this period, which currently runs through May 15.
District of Columbia
Superior Court of the District of Columbia ordered all evictions and foreclosures delayed until May 15.
Governor Ron DeSantis suspended evictions and foreclosures until mid-May.
Some local Georgia courts have stopped hearing eviction cases, but there is no statewide order halting evictions or foreclosures.
The state’s courts have stopped hearing cases on evictions for financial causes.
Governor J. B. Prizker has ordered a halt to evictions and the state’s courts are limiting in-person hearings to essential cases.
Governor Eric Holcomb has announced that no residential eviction proceedings or foreclosure actions can be initiated during the state of emergency. Stay-at-home orders are in place through May 1.
Additionally, essential utility companies (gas, electric, broadband, telecom, water and wastewater services) are prohibited from discontinuing service during the public health emergency.
Governor Kimberly Reynolds halted eviction and foreclosure actions during the crisis.
Governor Laura Kelly has temporarily prohibited evictions and foreclosures across the state until May 1 or until the declared state of disaster expires, whichever is earlier.
Governor Andy Beshear ordered residential evictions suspended during the state of emergency. The Kentucky Supreme Court has canceled all eviction proceedings through May 1 and the circuit clerk will not accept eviction filings until May 31.
Governor John Bel Edwards temporarily suspended all legal proceedings including eviction and foreclosure cases.
The Maine Supreme Court has suspended eviction and foreclosure cases through May 1.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has banned evictions and foreclosures for the duration of the state of emergency, as detailed by the Maryland Court of Appeals. Hogan also is preventing utility companies—including electric, gas, phone and internet services—from shutting off service due to lack of payment.
Massachusetts’ Housing Court has put a hold on all but emergency hearings. The state Senate is considering a bill passed by its House that would put a moratorium on commercial and residential evictions and foreclosures until 30 days after the emergency ends.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order temporarily prohibiting entry to a home for the purpose of removing a tenant or owner.
Governor Tim Walz ordered a temporary moratorium on eviction and foreclosure proceedings.
Governor Tate Reeves halted evictions of tenants and homeowners as long as the state’s shelter-in-place order is active, which has been extended through April 27. Some courts in the state are still hearing eviction and foreclosure cases, however.
The Missouri State Supreme Court ordered a halt to in-person court proceedings except for certain cases, which do not include evictions and foreclosures.
Governor Steve Bullock ordered a stop to evictions and foreclosures for lack of payment during the emergency.
Governor Pete Ricketts ordered a halt to prevent eviction of renters unable to pay rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic until May 31.
Governor Steve Sisolak prohibited eviction or foreclosure proceedings on commercial and residential property until the state of emergency ends.
Governor Chris Sununu ordered a stop to evictions and foreclosure proceedings during the state of emergency.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ordered an end to evictions and foreclosure proceedings until 60 days past the end of the emergency. The governor also recruited more than 40 banks, credit unions, savings and loans and servicers to an initiative to offer 90 days of mortgage forbearance to borrowers economically impacted by COVID-19.
The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered a stay on legal writs pursuing eviction of tenants for nonpayment of rent.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on March 19 that mortgage payments will be suspended for 90 days based on financial hardship for borrowers due to the effects of the coronavirus. Cuomo is also temporarily postponing or suspending foreclosures. While aid to renters is still being debated, there is a 90-day moratorium on evictions, both residential and commercial.
The Supreme Court ordered all civil cases postponed until after June 1 except those that can be conducted remotely, which requires consent of both parties.
The Supreme Court ordered a stop to all residential eviction proceedings until further notice.
Governor Mike DeWine requested landlords of small commercial tenants and lenders to commercial property mortgage holders suspend required payments for 90 days. There is no statewide ban on residential evictions or foreclosures.
The Supreme Court has halted all court procedures through May 15 except in emergency cases.
Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order stopping residential and nonresidential evictions through the end of June.
The Supreme Court said no resident can be evicted for nonpayment of a mortgage, rent or property taxes through April 30.
Governor Gina Raimondo said state courts will not process residential or commercial evictions through mid-May.
Chief Justice Don Beatty ordered evictions and foreclosure proceedings delayed until May 1.
There is no statewide limit on evictions or foreclosures. Governor Kristi Noem said in mid-April she will not consider banning evictions.
The Supreme Court halted eviction cases through April 30.
The Supreme Court suspended eviction court cases until April 30 and halted actual evictions until May 7.
Governor Gary Herbert instituted a moratorium through May 15 on residential evictions for tenants who tested positive for COVID-19 or were quarantined or suffered wage or job loss because of COVID-19.
An emergency declared by the Supreme Court has halted nonemergency hearings, including for evictions and foreclosures, until May 31.
The Supreme Court declared all nonemergency hearings, including evictions, will be delayed until April 26.
Governor Jay Inslee ordered a halt to evictions until May 4.
Attorney General Patrick Morrissey has said his office is sending warning letters to landlords threatening tenants with eviction, although there is no statewide prohibition on evictions. The Supreme Court has halted nonemergency proceedings, which could include evictions.
Governor Tony Evers banned evictions and foreclosures through May.
Governor Mark Gordon has urged landlords and lenders to work with residents impacted by COVID-19, but state government has issued no barriers to eviction or foreclosure.