In the midst of an economic and public health crisis, no one should have to worry about keeping a roof over their head. The most recent COVID-19 relief package aims to reduce the burden of mortgage, rent, and utilities payments, and to ensure that Americans get to stay in their homes.
Here is what you need to know:
For homeowners with federally backed mortgage loans (FHA, VA, USDA, or 184/184A loans, or loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac):
- The bill includes a 60-day foreclosure moratorium, starting on March 18, 2020. You will not see foreclosure actions and cannot be removed from your home due to foreclosure during that time.
- You are eligible for up to 6 months’ forbearance on your mortgage payments, with a possible extension for another 6 months.
- At the end of the forbearance, you can work within each agency’s existing programs to help get back on track with payments. However, you will have to pay missed payments at some point during the loan, so if you can pay, you should continue to do so.
For those who rent properties with federal subsidies (such as public housing, Section 8 rental assistance vouchers or subsidies, USDA rental housing assistance, or Low Income Housing Tax Credits) or federally backed mortgage loans (including those from the FHA, USDA, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac):
- Owners of these properties cannot file evictions or charge fees for nonpayment of rent for 120 days following enactment of the bill, and cannot issue a renter a notice to leave the property before 150 days after enactment.
- After this period renters will be responsible for making payments and getting back on track, so they should continue to make payments if they’re financially able to do so.
- Renters who receive housing subsidies such as public housing or Section 8 who have had their incomes fall should recertify their incomes with their public housing agency or property owner because it may lower the rent they owe.
For help with utilities: The CARES Act provides $900 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to help low-income households with heating and cooling in homes, weatherization, and energy-related low-cost home repairs or replacements.
- Of that amount, Maryland will receive $34 million. Click here to apply for utilities assistance through Maryland’s Office of Home Energy Programs.
Governor Hogan has also issued the following emergency orders to alleviate housing challenges for Marylanders:
- Prohibiting Maryland courts from ordering the eviction of any tenant who can show that their failure to pay rent was the results of COVID-19 — for example, because of lost or reduced unemployment, or needing to care for a school-aged child — or because they are diagnosed with, or being assessed for, COVID-19. Click here to read the emergency order.
- Prohibiting electric, gas, water, sewage, phone, cable TV, and internet service provider companies in Maryland from shutting off any residential customer’s service, or charging any residential late fees. Click here to read the emergency order.
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