April 21, 2020

Sens. Warren, Brown, Banking Committee Colleagues Urge Major Mortgage Servicers to Immediately Notify Eligible Homeowners of Protections Available Through CARES Act

To obtain relief, struggling homeowners must know they are eligible and request mortgage forbearance, but early reports suggest they are getting contradictory and false information from mortgage servicers; Lawmakers to mortgage servicers: "take immediate action to notify all eligible homeowners with loans you service of the foreclosure and forbearance protections available to them due to the CARES Act"

Text of Letters to Mortgage Servicers (PDF)

Boston, MA -- United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions, and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, led a letter to major mortgage servicers -- Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Mr. Cooper, Bank of America, PennyMac Loan Services, Quicken Loans, Freedom Mortgage, New Residential, Lakeview Loan Servicing, US Bank, and Truist -- urging them to immediately notify eligible homeowners of the foreclosure and forbearance protections available to homeowners experiencing a financial hardship that were included in the  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

"As a servicer for single-family home mortgages, you have information about whether these loans are owned, insured, or guaranteed by a federal agency or backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and therefore eligible for protections provided by the CARES Act - information that may not be readily available or known to families who are struggling during this economic downturn and need these protections to stay in their home," the lawmakers wrote.

The CARES Act provides mortgage relief for eligible single-family borrowers with federally backed residential mortgages. It prohibits a lender or loan servicer from foreclosing on an eligible homeowner for a period of no less than 60 days, beginning March 18, 2020. And it gives single-family homeowners who are facing hardship due to the pandemic the right to up to 360 days of mortgage forbearance -- essentially allowing them to hit pause on their mortgage payments during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak and crisis and to make up those payments later. But homeowners who are experiencing a hardship must request mortgage forbearance to receive relief, and early reports suggest that servicer customer service lines are backed up, wait times are extensive, and homeowners may receive contradictory or false information once they reach someone. 

"To address these concerns, it is incumbent that your company do your part to affirmatively and accurately inform consumers of their ability to request forbearance under the CARES Act if they are facing hardship, and to ensure that families who need assistance and are unable to pay their mortgage because of COVID-19-related financial hardship are able to remain in their homes," wrote the lawmakers. "Homeowners face an unprecedented public health and economic emergency, and must have guaranteed, easy access to the protections provided to them by the CARES Act if they need them."

Joining Senators Warren and Brown are Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai'i), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Senator Warren has pressed the Trump Administration to respond effectively to deliver the robust set of resources needed to address this public health emergency, including her efforts to secure mortgage and foreclosure relief for homeowners during COVID-19. She cosponsored a bill with Senator Brown that would fill the gaps in the CARES Act relief by instituting a more comprehensive suspension of mortgage and other debt collection.