Massachusetts Foreclosure Prevention Laws

Learn about Massachusetts laws that help homeowners save their homes from foreclosure.

Several Massachusetts laws help keep defaulting homeowners in their homes. Specifically, under Massachusetts law, the foreclosing party has to:

  • provide a 90-day period during which a delinquent borrower can reinstate (get caught up on) the loan and prevent a foreclosure
  • provide a notice regarding the right to request a loan modification in certain cases, and
  • ensure it’s foreclosure paperwork—in particular, the mortgage assignments—are in order.

Read on to learn more about Massachusetts laws that might be useful if you’re a struggling homeowner in danger of foreclosure.

Overview of Massachusetts Foreclosures

Most foreclosures in Massachusetts are nonjudicial, which means the foreclosing party does not have to go through state court to foreclose. (To learn more about the difference between judicial and nonjudicial foreclosures, and the procedures for each, see Will Your Foreclosure Take Place In or Out of Court?)

(To learn the specific steps in a Massachusetts nonjudicial foreclosure, see Massachusetts Foreclosure Laws and Procedures.)

90-Day Right to Cure

Massachusetts law requires that the foreclosing party send a 90-day right-to-cure notice to eligible borrowers before starting a foreclosure. (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244, § 35A). (In 2010, the cure period was increased to 150 days except under limited circumstances, but this time frame reverted back to 90 days in 2016.)

Who’s eligible? Borrowers get the right to cure the default if the home has four or fewer units, and is borrower-occupied as a principal residence. Investment properties and second homes don’t qualify. The right to cure is limited to one time during any five-year period.

How much it costs to cure the default. To cure the default and reinstate the loan, you’ll have to pay:

  • the unpaid mortgage payments (principal and interest)
  • overdue escrow contributions, if applicable, and
  • any other charges or fees that are due, like late charges.

If you pay the total overdue amount—and any additional monthly payments, late charges, and fees that become due between the notice date and the date when you make your reinstatement payment—your loan account will be considered current and you then resume making your regular monthly payments.

Right to Request a Modified Mortgage Loan

Under Massachusetts law, the foreclosing party must send a notice to borrowers who have a certain type of mortgage loan letting them know about their right to request a loan modification. (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244, § 35B, 209 CMR 56.00).

Who’s eligible? The mortgage loan must have one or more features that are characteristic of a subprime loan like:

  • a low introductory interest rate
  • interest-only
  • negative amortization
  • less than full documentation of income or assets
  • excessive prepayment penalties, or
  • a loan-to-value ratio in excess of 95% (or 90% if housing payments exceed 38% of the borrower’s income).

Eligible borrowers get a right to request a loan modification once during any three year period, regardless of who owns the mortgage.

How to request a modification if you receive this kind of notice. If you want to request a loan modification or other foreclosure alternative option, you have to complete and return the “Mortgage Modification Options” form, which will be included with the notice, along with any supporting information no later than 30 days from the date the notice was sent.

Not more than 30 days after receiving the borrower's loan modification request and a completed loan modification application, the foreclosing party (the creditor) has to then provide you with a written assessment of your ability to make an affordable monthly payment, including:

  • a written statement of your income, debts, assets, and obligations as determined by the creditor
  • the creditor's net present value analysis of a modified mortgage loan
  • the creditor's anticipated net recovery at foreclosure
  • a statement of the interests of the creditor, and
  • a modified mortgage loan offer or a notice that no modified mortgage loan will be offered.

Protections for people with other kinds of loans. Keep in mind that even if you don’t get the right to request a modification and the associated protections under this state law because you don’t have a subprime mortgage loan, you may still apply for a loan modification or other loss mitigation (foreclosure avoidance) option from your servicer. If you submit a complete loss mitigation application more than 37 days before a foreclosure sale, federal mortgage servicing laws usually protect you from a foreclosure—at least until the servicer reviews your application and denies your request (and any appeal is exhausted), you reject all loss mitigation offers, or you fail to comply with the terms of a loss mitigation agreement. To find out how to apply for a loan modification or other foreclosure alternative, call your loan servicer.

Massachusetts Law Regarding Assignments

Massachusetts law also forces the foreclosing party to prove loan ownership by requiring that an assignment, or a chain of assignments, to the foreclosing party has been recorded in the registry of deeds for the county or district where the land is located. (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 244, § 14). (Learn more about assignments.)

Finding Massachusetts’ Foreclosure Statutes

To read the statutes that govern foreclosures in Massachusetts, go to the Massachusetts Legislature’s webpage and click on “General Laws.” Look in Part III, Title III, Chapter 244.

Getting Help

If the foreclosing party doesn't follow the law, you likely have a defense to the foreclosure.

To learn more about Massachusetts foreclosure laws and your rights under these laws, consider talking to a foreclosure attorney. If you want information about various ways to avoid a foreclosure, you might also consider talking to a HUD-approved housing counselor.

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