Federal and State Foreclosure Relief, Suspensions, and Moratoriums During the Coronavirus Crisis

Learn what relief, like a moratorium, might be available if you're facing a foreclosure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By , Attorney · University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Legal Update: The federal foreclosure suspension and state foreclosure moratoriums discussed in this article have expired. However, depending on your loan type, you might be eligible for a foreclosure moratorium in some circumstances. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has asked servicers to pause foreclosures through December 31, 2024. If you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan and your loan servicer learns that you've applied to your state's Homeowner Assistance Fund program, the servicer must suspend foreclosure activities for up to 60 days.

In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the federal government and some states, localities, and companies imposed foreclosure moratoriums—a temporary halt in the initiation or continuation of foreclosure procedures—for specific kinds of loans and in certain areas.

Unfortunately, most of these moratoriums have expired and widespread extensions are unlikely in 2022.

Foreclosure Moratoriums for Federally Backed Mortgage Loans During the COVID Pandemic

On June 24, 2021, the Biden Administration announced that three federal agencies—the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA)—agreed to extend their existing foreclosure moratoriums for federally backed mortgage loans, including FHA-insured, VA-guaranteed, and USDA loans, through July 31, 2021.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also agreed to extend its foreclosure suspension through this date.

Foreclosure Moratorium for FHA-Insured Loans Until July 31, 2021

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is part of HUD, continued its moratorium for all new foreclosure actions and foreclosure actions currently in process for FHA-insured, single-family loans and home equity conversion mortgages (reverse mortgages). The moratorium, however, doesn't apply to vacant or abandoned properties. The moratorium also ceases evictions of persons from FHA-insured single-family properties, excluding actions to evict the occupants of legally vacant or abandoned properties.

FHA later extended its eviction suspension through September 30, 2021. But foreclosures themselves can resume after July 31, 2021.

To find out if you have an FHA-insured loan, you can look for an FHA case number on your mortgage contract. Sometimes, though, loans lose their FHA-insured status. Call your servicer (often your bank or lender) or HUD's National Servicing Center at 877-622-8525 if you have questions about your loan's status.

You can also check your billing statement to see if you pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP). MIP is what FHA calls its mortgage insurance. If you're paying MIP, then you have an FHA-insured loan.

Foreclosure Moratorium for VA-Guaranteed Loans Until July 31, 2021

The VA's foreclosure suspension applies to properties secured by VA-guaranteed mortgages, including those previously secured by VA-guaranteed loans but currently in VA's real estate owned (REO) portfolio. The moratorium stops the initiation of foreclosures, the completion of foreclosures in process, and evictions. But vacant or abandoned properties aren't covered.

The VA later extended its eviction suspension through September 30, 2021. Foreclosure-related evictions are not to be initiated or completed on properties previously secured by VA-guaranteed loans (including properties in VA's Real Estate Owned portfolio). But the moratorium doesn't apply to vacant or abandoned properties. Foreclosures may resume after July 31, 2021.

To find out if you have a VA-guaranteed loan, look at the documents you signed when you took out your mortgage. VA-guaranteed loans contain specific language in the note and mortgage that identifies it as a VA loan. Also, fees paid to the VA will be shown in the closing documents.

Foreclosure Moratorium for USDA Loans Until July 31, 2021

The USDA foreclosure suspension applies to Single Family Housing Direct Home Loans and Single Family Guaranteed Home Loans. The moratorium halts the initiation of foreclosures, the completion of foreclosures in process, and evictions of homeowners from properties bought with a USDA direct or guaranteed home loan. Vacant and abandoned properties aren't included in the moratorium, though.

The USDA also extended through September 30, 2021, the eviction moratorium for homeowners of properties financed or guaranteed by USDA. Foreclosures may start or continue after July 31, 2021.

Borrowers with mortgages directly extended by the USDA's Rural Housing Service (RHS) should be aware that they have this kind of loan. But homeowners with privately serviced RHS-guaranteed loans might not know about their loan's status. To find out if you have an RHS-guaranteed loan, ask the servicer or check your closing documents from when you took out the loan. To learn more, go to the USDA Rural Development website.

Foreclosure Moratorium for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loans Until July 31, 2021

The FHFA agreed to suspend foreclosures and REO evictions through July 31, 2021. The foreclosure moratorium applies to Fannie- and Freddie-backed, single-family mortgages. The REO eviction moratorium applies to properties that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac have acquired through foreclosure or deed in lieu of foreclosure transactions.

The FHFA then agreed to extend the eviction suspension for properties that Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac acquire through foreclosure or a deed in lieu of foreclosure through September 30, 2021. But the foreclosure itself moratorium is expiring July 31, 2021.

To find out if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backs your loan, use the Fannie Mae loan lookup tool and Freddie Mac loan lookup tool. You can also ask your servicer if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns or guarantees your loan, or call 800-232-6643 (Fannie Mae) or 800-373-3343 (Freddie Mac).

State Foreclosure Suspensions

Multiple states imposed a temporary foreclosure moratorium when the coronavirus pandemic began. In various states, courts shut down to halt the spread of the virus and postponed foreclosure hearings as part of the process. Unfortunately, the majority of the moratoriums have now expired.

  • Governor Kay Ivey of Alabama issued a proclamation granting temporary relief from residential foreclosures and evictions for the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency. Residential evictions and foreclosures have resumed as of June 1, 2020.
  • In Alaska, for those experiencing a financial hardship related to COVID-19, SB 241 suspends foreclosures until the date the governor determines that the novel coronavirus disease public health disaster emergency no longer exists, or until June 30, 2020, whichever is earlier. (To get the protection, you have to provide the creditor seeking foreclosure a signed statement before June 30, 2020, sworn under penalty of perjury, that you're experiencing a financial hardship related to the COVID-19 public health disaster emergency.) The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation pledged not to foreclose on homes through the end of August, after the statewide moratorium was lifted on June 30, 2020.
  • In Arizona, banks and mortgage servicers, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the FHFA, have agreed to suspend evictions and foreclosures for at least 60 days from March 30, 2020, with the potential to extend that period for as long as state and local emergency declarations are in place.
  • As of September 1, 2020, the California Judicial Council repealed rules that suspended foreclosures and related unlawful detainer actions in California's courts.
  • In Colorado, the Governor's Executive Order 2020-12, issued March 20, 2020, effective for 30 days, extends various foreclosure deadlines, like the deadline to file a Notice of Intent to Cure and the deadline for tendering funds to cure, under the Colorado foreclosure statutes, for 30 days. The order was extended through May 2020, and then for another 15 days, so no foreclosures should happen during that time except in cases of a public safety risk. Also, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Colorado has emphasized the harms of issuing eviction and foreclosure orders absent extraordinary circumstances,
  • In Connecticut, foreclosure sales scheduled prior to October 3, 2020, were canceled to prevent a potential gathering of individuals at the auction site. On March 31, 2020, various participating financial institutions agreed not to initiate foreclosures or evictions in Connecticut for at least 60 days.
  • Effective July 1, 2020, filings for Delaware foreclosures and evictions may resume after being paused. But evictions will continue to be stayed (on hold) so that the Justice of the Peace Courts can determine whether the parties would benefit from a court-supervised mediation or alternative dispute resolution.
  • In Florida, with Executive Order 20-211, Governor Ron DeSantis extended a statewide foreclosure moratorium until 12:01 am on October 1, 2020, for single-family properties with borrowers unable to make mortgage payments due to the pandemic. The foreclosure ban applies to "final action" at the conclusion of foreclosure proceedings. So, the moratorium doesn't preclude filing or generally proceeding with a foreclosure action.
  • Georgia's Supreme Court extended a statewide judicial emergency until June 12, 2020, which directs state courts to prioritize essential functions, giving lower courts discretion to continue eviction and foreclosure proceedings.
  • Evictions and foreclosures in Hawaii have been shut down by the courts through the end of May 2020.
  • Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb's Executive Order 21-08 extends prior executive orders staying evictions and foreclosures until April 30, 2021.
  • In Iowa, the governor's proclamation, as extended, includes a suspension of most evictions and foreclosures through May 27, 2020. Governor Reynolds extended the above-referenced orders regarding evictions and foreclosures to remain in effect until April 30, 2020. The governor has stated that she doesn't plan to extend the moratorium, but will instead establish a program to provide financial assistance to Iowans who've lost income and face foreclosure.
  • Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued a ban on foreclosures and evictions, which was lifted on May 28, 2021.
  • In Kentucky, Governor's Executive Order 2020-257 directs that all state, county, and local law enforcement officers cease enforcement of orders of eviction for residential premises, including after a foreclosure, for the duration of the declared State of Emergency.
  • In Louisiana, Governor John Bel Edwards signed a proclamation suspending deadlines in all legal proceedings until May 15, 2020, which includes foreclosure proceedings.
  • In Maine, pursuant to an emergency order effective March 18, 2020 to May 1, 2020, no foreclosure proceedings will be scheduled or heard.
  • The Maryland Department of Labor's Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation extended a moratorium on new residential foreclosures through June 30, 2021.
  • Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed H. 4647 into law on April 20, 2020. This law protects homeowners from foreclosures for 120 days after the effective date of the law or 45 days after the COVID-19 emergency declaration has been lifted, whichever is sooner. The moratorium was set to expire on August 18, 2020, but Governor Baker extended the state's suspension of evictions and foreclosures for another 60 days, until October 17, 2020, through the authority granted to him by the new law. The law also requires servicers to offer forbearances of up to 180 days. The Massachusetts Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program offers up to $4,000 to eligible low-income homeowners affected by COVID-19.
  • Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Insurance and Financial Services announced on April 23, 2020, the "MiMortgage Partnership Program" with a list of participating financial institutions that have agreed to a voluntary plan protecting homeowners with a 60-day moratorium on foreclosures.
  • Minnesota law protects farmers struggling with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic from foreclosure until December 1, 2020, if they elect to take part in creditor mediation. Any farmer facing financial difficulties can accept the right to mediation and then receive protection from foreclosure through harvest time.
  • Montana Governor Steve Bullock issued a directive limiting foreclosures, stating no trustee's sale, sheriff's sale, or other involuntary sale of residential real property (or delivery of any trustee's deed, certificate of sale or sheriff's deed with respect to such sale) shall proceed through April 10, 2020, extended through May 24, 2020. Governor Bullock also issued an executive order suspending residential evictions and foreclosures for individuals who are members of a vulnerable population, who have suffered a significant financial hardship as a result of the outbreak, and who, pursuant to this direction, remain sheltered at home. The above-referenced orders shall remain in place and will expire 30 days after an individual ceases to shelter at home or at the end of the state of emergency, whichever is sooner.
  • In Nevada, Declaration of Emergency Directive 008 prohibits the initiation of foreclosure actions, among other things, related to residential and commercial real property until the state of emergency terminates, expires, or the directive is rescinded. Governor Steve Sisolak announced on June 25, 2020, that the state will be gradually lifting the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
  • On March 17, 2020, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed an emergency order prohibiting foreclosures in the state for the duration of the declared state of emergency. The eviction and foreclosure moratorium is scheduled to end on July 1, 2020.
  • New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 106 on March 19, 2020, which imposed a moratorium. While eviction and foreclosure proceedings may be initiated or continued during the time the Order is in effect, enforcement of all judgments for possession, warrants of removal, and writs of possession shall be stayed. Sheriffs, court officers, and their agents shall refrain from acting to remove individuals from residential properties through the eviction or foreclosure processes while the Order is in effect. The Order will remain in effect for no longer than two months following the end of the Public Health Emergency or State of Emergency, unless revoked. The eviction moratorium will last until January 1, 2022, unless the Governor ends it earlier. On July 24, 2021, the State Legislature passed a bill (S3691/A5865), which would end the eviction moratorium on November 15, 2021.
  • In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law an extended moratorium (S50001/A40001) on residential foreclosures until January 15, 2022, if the homeowner files a hardship declaration with the mortgage lender, other foreclosing party, or the court.
  • In North Carolina, the Supreme Court ordered all civil cases postponed until after June 1, 2020, except those that can be conducted remotely.
  • Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 2009, which extended the existing foreclosure moratorium in the state through June 30, 2021. She later extended the moratorium for Oregonians until September 30, 2021, under the authority of HB 2009. The Act further allows the Governor to issue an executive order to extend the emergency period through December 31, 2021, which she did.
  • In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order extending a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions until July 10, 2020, and later extended the moratorium until August 31 for those who haven't received assistance from a program administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) or who aren't already receiving relief through one of several federal foreclosure moratorium programs or judicial orders.
  • In Rhode Island, on April 24, 2020, many banks and credit unions agreed to a "Financial Institution COVID-19 Relief Pledge" that, for at least 60 days, financial institutions will not initiate foreclosure sales or evictions, consistent with applicable guidelines.
  • A Supreme Court order in South Carolina set a statewide moratorium on foreclosure hearings, foreclosure sales, writs of ejectment, all matters relating to foreclosures until further order by the Chief Justice. Evictions and foreclosures will resume in South Carolina beginning May 15, 2020, according to the state Supreme Court. The court stated that the enactment of the CARES Act has made it possible for some facing eviction or foreclosure to honor their financial obligations and allows others to avoid ejectment. Foreclosures now require a CARES Act certification.
  • Many of Texas' largest counties have suspended foreclosures for the month of April 2020 due to coronavirus concerns. Though, some bans just say that the individual county won't make county facilities available for sales to go ahead. So, it's theoretically possible that sales could happen using another channel, like Zoom or Skype.
  • In Vermont, pursuant to an administrative order (AO 49 Amendment), the plaintiff in a Vermont foreclosure must provide notice to the defendant (the homeowner) about the availability of federal funds under the Vermont Homeowner Assistance Program (VT HAP). The homeowner may request a stay (suspension) of foreclosure activity if they've submitted a VT HAP application and believe they meet the basic eligibility requirements for the program. Upon submission of the request, the stay will be automatically granted for a period of 60 days. This provision will expire on September 30, 2025, or upon notice to the Court Administrator from the Vermont Housing Finance Agency that VT HAP funding has been exhausted, whichever is earlier.
  • A Virginia law, H340, which went into effect on April 22, 2020, provides the right to get a 30-day foreclosure stay (halt in legal proceedings) to homeowners who've been affected by the coronavirus outbreak during the governor-declared state of emergency.
  • In Washington, D.C., a foreclosure moratorium is in place for residential properties from March 11, 2020 to June 30, 2022. (D.C. Code § 42–851.01). During this time, no residential foreclosure may be initiated or conducted, no sale may be initiated or conducted, and no judgment foreclosing the right of redemption (pertains to property tax foreclosures) can be entered. Also, from July 1, 2022, through September 30, 2022, no residential foreclosure may be initiated or conducted, no sale may be initiated or conducted, and no judgment foreclosing the right of redemption (again, relates to property tax foreclosures) can be entered if:

    (A) a homeowner or their representative applies for financial assistance to cure a debt or default from the District's Homeowner Assistance Fund program or a similar government fund established to assist homeowners impacted by the COVID-19 public emergency
    (B) the financial assistance application is pending approval, pending payment, or under appeal
    (C) proof of the financial assistance application status is presented, as a paper copy or through an electronic medium, to the mortgage lender, condominium association, homeowners' association, or tax sale purchaser, or to an agent acting as a representative for any housing or financing entity to which a homeowner is indebted, and
    (D) the actions taken pursuant to subparagraphs (A) and (C) occur no later than 60 calendar days after July 1, 2022.
  • Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed Emergency Order #15, which prohibits mortgagees from commencing foreclosures and requesting or scheduling a sheriff's sale for 60 days (ending May 26, 2020) but doesn't apply to abandoned premises.

County Foreclosure Postponements

Locally, some places, like individual counties, temporarily suspended sheriff's sales and post-foreclosure evictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, foreclosure sales have resumed in many areas.

Company Foreclosure Suspensions

Some mortgage companies and banks voluntarily suspended residential property foreclosure sales and evictions at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis. Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase plan to restart mortgage foreclosures as soon as the federal moratoriums expire at the end of June 2021, but Wells Fargo will hold off on foreclosures until 2022.

Getting More Help

A local foreclosure lawyer can advise you about your legal rights under federal law and tell you about any state laws that could protect you in a foreclosure. A HUD-approved housing counselor can provide you with helpful information (at no cost) about ways to avoid a foreclosure.

Also, while this article addresses mortgage foreclosures, if you're behind in paying your property taxes, certain counties are declaring a moratorium on property tax foreclosures and tax sales. Call your county treasurer's office or tax collector's office, or look online, to see if your area has a moratorium.

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