Several Massachusetts laws help keep defaulting homeowners in their homes. Specifically, under Massachusetts law, the foreclosing party has to:
Read on to learn more about Massachusetts laws that might be useful if you’re a struggling homeowner in danger of foreclosure.
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.)
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:
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.
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:
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:
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 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.)
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.
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.