On March 19, 2020, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) issued guidance to urge all regulated and exempt mortgage servicers to alleviate the adverse impact caused by COVID-19 on mortgage brokers who demonstrate that they are not able to timely make payments, including taking reasonable and prudent actions (subject to the requirements of any related guarantees or insurance policies) to support those adversely impacted mortgage loan borrowers by:
- Forbearing mortgage payments for 90 days from their due dates;
- Refraining from reporting late payments to credit rating agencies for 90 days;
- Offering mortgagors an additional 90-day grace period to complete trial loan modifications, and ensuring that late payments during the COVID-19 pandemic does not affect their ability to obtain permanent loan modifications;
- Waiving late payment fees and any online payment fees for a period of 90 days;
- Postponing foreclosures and evictions for 90 days;
- Ensuring that mortgagors do not experience a disruption of service if the mortgage servicer closes its office, including making available other avenues for mortgagors to continue to manage their accounts and to make inquiries; and
- Proactively reaching out to mortgagors via app announcements, text, email, or otherwise to explain the above-listed assistance being offered to mortgagors.
The NYDFS also states it believes that reasonable and prudent efforts by institutions during the outbreak to assist these mortgagors under these unusual and extreme circumstances are consistent with safe and sound banking practices as well as in the public interest and will not be subject to examiner criticism.
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