Round-up of Recent Housing Announcements Related to Coronavirus
This page summarizes a number of announcements from federal agencies on housing policies related to the coronavirus pandemic, most of which were issued in March 2021. It is current as of April 5, 2021. HAC has posted a table here that shows the deadlines for many federal agencies’ provisions.
If you have a correction or an addition, please contact Leslie Strauss on HAC’s staff.
REQUEST FOR COMMENTS
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed changes that are intended to delay foreclosures on homeowners who have not been able to pay their mortgages for pandemic-related reasons. Comments are due May 10, 2021. (CFPB’s press release somewhat confusingly says comments are due “before May 11.”) Forbearance (permission to delay making mortgage payments) will end for almost 1.7 million homeowners in September and the following months, CFPB states, with many of them a year or more behind on their mortgage payments. The proposed rule changes would require lenders and servicers to wait until after December 31, 2021 before starting most foreclosures, to offer loan modifications to borrowers, and to take other steps. A separate bulletin for lenders advises them to prepare early for the wave of homeowners exiting forbearance.
- The Centers for Disease Control has extended the nationwide eviction moratorium through June 30, with some changes in wording. CDC also posted a new checklist version of the Eviction Protection Declaration for tenants to use. USDA RD announced that the moratorium applies to tenants in USDA-assisted properties. For more information, property owners and management agents can contact their RD servicing representative (on the linked page, click the Contact tab). Tenants can request information from HUD-certified housing counseling agencies.
- The application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses (including nonprofits) was extended to May 31 by the PPP Extension Act of 2021.
- HUD has revised and extended provisions for the Section 184 Native American and Section 184A Native Hawaiian mortgage guarantee programs. Moratoriums on foreclosure and eviction of borrowers are extended through June 30, 2021. Other date changes and expansions apply to loan processing flexibilities, borrower requests for forbearance, borrower eligibility for loss mitigation, and more.
- Some flexibilities related to new single-family mortgage loans, put in place by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earlier in the pandemic, have been extended until April 30. These include alternative appraisals, alternative methods for documenting income and verifying employment before loan closing and expanded use of power of attorney.
- Forbearance options for owners of rental property whose mortgages are held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are extended through June 30. Landlords who are experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic can request mortgage forbearance and must agree to certain tenant protections. For more information, contact a mortgage lender or servicer.
- The Federal Housing Administration has extended some temporary policies through June 30, 2021. The policies provide flexibility in using exterior-only appraisals, re-verifying employment, verifying self-employment income, verifying rental income and use of escrow accounts for some borrowers in forbearance.
- One of the Federal Housing Administration’s temporary policies expired on March 31, 2021. Mortgagee Letter 2020-16, issued in June 2020 and then extended, allowed FHA-approved lenders to endorse mortgages that had received forbearance because of the pandemic. FHA explained that fewer than 3 percent of FHA-approved mortgagees had requested endorsement of such mortgages, so it expected little impact from the provision’s expiration. Homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages can still request forbearance; currently that policy is in place through June 30, 2021.
OTHER TENANT-RELATED ANNOUNCEMENTS
- The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced in a joint statement that “both agencies will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law.” Evictions that violate the moratorium, as well as other unlawful debt collection practices, can be reported to the CFPB at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ or 855-411-2372.
- USDA reminded owners and managers of USDA-financed multifamily properties that the CARES Act instituted a required 30-day notice before evicting a tenant, and that provision has no expiration date. The agency also noted that a lease cannot be terminated or not renewed as an alternative to eviction. USDA has also mailed letters to all Section 514 and 515 tenants about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program support that is being distributed through states and localities. For more information, contact an RD state office.
- USDA’s multifamily housing office reminded stakeholders that tenants displaced by disasters are eligible for priority access to available units at RD rental properties. Their status may be documented by either an RD-issued Letter of Priority Engagement (for tenants from RD properties) or a registration letter issued by FEMA (for tenants from any properties). For more information, or to request a temporary waiver, property owners and management agents should contact their RD servicing representative (on the linked page, click the Contact tab). Tenants impacted by disasters can locate RD properties here and register with FEMA here or at 800-621-3362.