What happens if my mortgage servicer doesn't pay the insurance or property taxes on time?

If your mortgage is escrowed, your mortgage servicer must make timely property taxes and homeowners insurance payments.

Question

A couple of months ago I moved out of my parents’ house and bought my own place. My loan is escrowed so, as I understand it, the lender must make the homeowners insurance and property tax payments. I just heard that lenders are sometimes late when they pay insurance and property taxes. What happens if my lender doesn't make the payments on time?

Answer

Since your loan is escrowed, your mortgage servicer has a duty to make timely escrow disbursements under federal mortgage servicing law. (A mortgage servicer is the company that collects mortgage payments, manages the escrow account, and handles workout negotiations if the homeowner defaults.)

If the servicer fails to make the insurance or tax payment, you should send the servicer a notice of error. (This is explained in more detail below.)

The Servicer's Obligation to Make Homeowners Insurance and Property Tax Disbursements

The servicer must make the insurance and tax payments in a timely manner (that is, on or before the deadline to avoid a penalty) as long as your mortgage payment is not more than 30 days overdue. If there aren’t enough funds in your escrow account to cover the disbursements, the servicer must advance funds to make the disbursements in a timely manner (again, as long as your payment is not more than 30 days overdue).

What If the Servicer Doesn’t Make the Payments On Time?

While most mortgage servicers are pretty good about paying insurance and property tax bills in a timely manner, mistakes can happen. If your servicer doesn’t pay the insurance or property taxes on time, you should send a copy of the bill along with a notice of error (which is a letter describing the error) to your mortgage servicer. Be sure to include:

  • your name
  • information that allows the servicer to identify your mortgage loan account, and
  • a description of the error (that is, that the servicer failed to make the escrow disbursements).

This should be a separate letter (not a note scribbled on your payment coupon) and be sure you send it to the proper address. (Check your monthly mortgage statement, coupon book, or the servicer’s website for the address to use for notices of errors. You can also call your servicer to get the address.)

The servicer must acknowledge its receipt of the notice of error within five business days. If it turns out that the servicer did forget to make the insurance and/or tax disbursements, it must correct the error within 30 business days (or 45 days if it notifies you of the extension and the reason for the delay before the end of initial 30-day period) and cover the cost of any penalties imposed due to the late disbursement.

Contact Your Tax Authority and Insurance Carrier

You should also contact your tax authority and insurance carrier as soon as possible. If you don’t or your servicer don't pay the property taxes, the tax authority could put a lien on your home.

Getting Help

If your mortgage servicer fails to pay your property taxes or insurance premiums out of your escrow account, you may want to consult an attorney or a HUD-approved housing counselor.

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