In the wake of a natural disaster—like a hurricane or wildfire—you might qualify for certain foreclosure protections, like a moratorium. Generally, you can qualify for a moratorium if you have an FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or VA loan and you meet specific criteria.
If your loan isn't one of these types, you should be aware that borrowers with any type of loan might qualify for financial relief from FEMA. Also, loan servicers sometimes offer relief options, like forbearances or modifications, to affected homeowners.
Read on to learn out more about the types of foreclosure relief available if you have been the victim of a natural disaster.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) often provides a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages following natural disasters, so long as the property was directly affected by the disaster and you don't have other resources, like insurance settlements, to help you catch up. For example, HUD granted a 90-day moratorium after the California wildfires in 2017.
You're generally eligible for a foreclosure moratorium if you are in one of three following basic groups:
A moratorium may be extended—like to 180 days as in the case of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria—if:
FHA later extended the moratorium for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who meet certain criteria for an additional 60 days, and then another 90 days, and then another 30 days, until September 15, 2018.
In some cases, FHA offers loan modifications and forbearances to borrowers who went through a disaster and are struggling to make their mortgage payments. And, in February 2018, FHA introduced a Disaster Standalone Partial Claim option to help struggling borrowers start making mortgage payments again without a payment shock. This option puts up to 12 months of missed mortgage payments into an interest-free second mortgage. The second loan becomes due and payable when the borrower sells the home or refinances. To qualify for a Disaster Standalone Partial Claim, you must meet certain eligibility requirements.
If you have an FHA loan and want to find out if you qualify for any of these protections or options, call your loan servicer.
During times of natural disasters, the VA encourages loan holders and servicers to:
(Learn more about foreclosure relief after a natural disaster if you have an FHA or VA loan.)
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac generally implement a 90-day foreclosure sale suspension immediately following a natural disaster if the property is within a federally designated disaster area. Fannie and Freddie also usually offer modification programs and other forms of assistance to homeowners who've gone through a natural disaster. (To learn more, see Foreclosure Help: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loans.)
To find out if Fannie Mae owns your loan, go to http://knowyouroptions.com and click on “Loan Lookup” in the upper-right corner. To find out if Freddie Mac owns your loan, go to https://ww3.freddiemac.com/corporate.
Mortgage lenders and servicers may also provide relief from foreclosure by offering flexible loss mitigation options to borrowers following a natural disaster. Possible relief options include:
Additionally, FEMA offers financial assistance so individuals and families whose property has been damaged or destroyed as a result of a federally declared disaster can make their mortgage payments or repair the home. Go to www.fema.gov for more information.