Guide to Mortgage and Rent Relief in Every State During the Coronavirus Emergency

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Having a roof over your head is important in the best of times, but during a pandemic, the idea of going without if you can’t pay your rent or mortgage is especially alarming. To combat this issue, the response to COVID-19 has, for the most part, been twofold, with guidance coming from a federal level, in the form of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, and at a state level.

The vast majority of states have provided some additional level of protection for homeowners facing foreclosure or renters facing eviction. Protections include governor-issued moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions and statewide court closures. Six states — Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota — have not enacted any laws to protect renters or homeowners.

A few states have brokered deals with banks to help provide financial relief for homeowners. Only one state (Delaware) has opted to introduce a new financial support option available to those experiencing a housing crisis due to the virus. It provides up to $1,500 to help residents make rent.

Here’s a breakdown of the various support options available to homeowners and renters in the time of COVID-19:

What Happens If I Can’t Pay My Rent or Mortgage Because of Covid?

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Even in the time of COVID-19, the rent (or mortgage payment) is likely still due. That doesn’t mean you’d necessarily be facing eviction or foreclosure if you aren’t able to make your usual payment. If you’ve lost income due to COVID-19, you’re likely safe from being foreclosed on or evicted.

Federally backed properties — which includes those from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, the VA and the USDA — cannot be foreclosed on, and their residents can’t be evicted due to the CARES Act. It’s essential to keep in mind that other supports, like forbearance, are not automatic through the act and must be requested. Many states have also put a temporary hold or ban on evictions and foreclosures to help stop the spread.

How Regulations About Missed Housing Payments Have Changed

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From a federal level, there have been several notable changes in how missed housing payments are treated. In general, evictions and foreclosures for those who live in or own federally backed properties have been temporarily suspended. Homeowners covered by the CARES Act have the right to request a forbearance on their loan if they’ve experienced sufficient financial hardship. That could be granted for a period of up to 180 days. After that, it may be renewed for up to an additional 180 days.

But there may be slight differences in how the CARES Act is carried out, depending on the lender:

Those with multi-family mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will have a forbearance option if they agree to suspend evictions for their property. That eviction suspension would last as long as the forbearance lasts. Other Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers should still have access to this delayed payment option. Late fees would not be applied during this time, and foreclosure would be suspended. Those with an FHA-backed loan have a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for 60 days, which began on March 18th, 2020.

Resources for Missed Mortgage or Rent Payments

A woman stands by the window while holding a cup of coffee.

If you find that you can’t pay your mortgage or rent payment due to financial hardship, you have options beyond the CARES Act.

Homeowners

  • Contact a credit counselor to discuss your options.
  • Consider taking out a home equity loan.
  • See if your state or local government has provided additional protections against foreclosure, or has an emergency fund you can access.
  • Look into refinancing your mortgage to lower your monthly payments.

Renters

  • Make your landlord aware of your financial situation and discuss your options.
  • Reach out to a non-profit or COVID-19 grant program for financial assistance (these may be based on things like location or vocation).
  • Talk to a credit counselor for guidance.
  • Check if your state or local government has enacted any protections against eviction or provided monetary aid for rent payments.

Each state has gone about offering mortgage and rent relief during the coronavirus crisis in slightly different ways, most with the same result of protecting renters and homeowners who have been impacted by the coronavirus.

State Approaches to Mortgage and Rent Relief During the Coronavirus

Be Proactive and Keep Your Home

A man smiles while speaking on the phone with his mortgage company

If you think you might not be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month, it’s always best to call your landlord or servicer to see if you can work out a deal and go over your available options. For example, states which have made deals with various banks and lenders may have included a coronavirus mortgage grace period, which may include fees. Just keep in mind that this grace period is not the same as payment forgiveness. It’s also worth inquiring if there are county- or city-level relief programs that can provide assistance or relief.

About the Author


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Devon Delfino is an independent journalist based in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has been featured in publications such as: the L.A. Times, Teen Vogue, Mashable, Business Insider, Forbes, MarketWatch, CNBC and USA Today, among others.


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