New York Investigates Post-Sandy Mortgage Servicing Practices

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On March 7, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) is investigating certain bank and servicer practices related to Hurricane Sandy relief. Specifically, the DFS is looking into complaints that homeowners impacted by Hurricane Sandy and allowed to forgo mortgage payments are now being burdened by requests to make up all past payments in an immediate lump sum amount. In November and December of 2012, the DFS reached agreements with major banks and servicers for borrowers who were struggling to make mortgage payments after Hurricane Sandy. Under the agreement, the banks and servicers agreed to offer forbearance on mortgage payments to certain homeowners for three to six months without a lump sum balloon payment at the end of such period. The DFS is now receiving reports that homeowners at the end of their forbearance period are being asked for these lump sum payments. In addition, some homeowners are receiving pre-foreclosure notices based on missed payments during the forbearance period. The DFS sent letters to banks and servicers that seek by March 12, 2013 information on (i) the number of homeowners who asked for and received forbearance, (ii) lenders’ forbearance-related policies and practices, (iii) how the institutions implemented forbearances internally, and (iv) whether and under what circumstances they would consider offering forgiveness of principal and interest payments for up to 12 months post-storm.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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