MA Enacts Foreclosure and Eviction Moratorium Bill in Response to COVID-19

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Massachusetts recently enacted a bill, House Bill 4647 (the Act), which, among other things, provides a temporary moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.  The Act, which went into effect on April 20, 2020, also allows borrowers to receive reverse mortgage counseling via video conference or by telephone during the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Massachusetts.

The Act imposes a moratorium on certain foreclosures and evictions until the earlier of either 120 days after April 20, 2020, or 45 days after the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Massachusetts is lifted.  Specifically, with respect to residential properties that are not vacant or abandoned, mortgagees are prohibited from publishing a notice of foreclosure sale, exercising a power of sale, exercising a right of entry, or initiating a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure process.  In addition, with respect to a residential dwelling unit, for purposes of a non-essential eviction, landlords and property owners are prohibited from terminating a tenancy or sending a notice requesting or demanding that a tenant vacate the premises.  Moreover, landlords must not impose late fees for non-payment of rent or furnish rental payment data related to the non-payment to a consumer reporting agency if, within 30 days of the missed rent payment, the tenant provides notice and documentation to the landlord that the non-payment was due to a financial impact from COVID-19.

The Act also requires mortgagees to grant forbearance, up to 180 days, to residential mortgage loan borrowers.  In order to qualify for the forbearance, borrowers must submit a request to their mortgage servicer affirming that they have been financially impacted from COVID-19.  Additionally, during the period of forbearance, penalties and interests beyond those scheduled as if the borrower made timely payments must not accrue.  Further, mortgagees are prohibited from furnishing negative mortgage payment information to a consumer reporting agency related to the mortgage payments subject to the forbearance.  The Act’s forbearance provision expires upon the earlier of either 120 days after April 20, 2020, or 45 days after the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Massachusetts is lifted.

Moreover, until the termination of the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Massachusetts, the Act allows borrowers to receive the required reverse mortgage counseling via synchronous, real-time video conference or by telephone.  WBK covered the Act’s reverse mortgage counseling provision and the related guidance from the Massachusetts Division of Banks here.

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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