Foreclosure During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Crisis
This resource contains common questions about unemployment during the COVID-19 crisis for Tampa Bay area residents including Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.
Apply for services by phone Monday-Friday, 9.a.m.-4:30 p.m., or apply online anytime.
- Legal Aid Line: (800) 625-2257
- Senior Legal Helpline: (888) 895-7873
- Veterans Legal Helpline: (866) 486-6161
To learn more about our services, visit Get Help or How Do I Apply? Am I Eligible?.
Do I qualify for help?
You will need to know if you have a federally backed mortgage which is a loan owned, insured, or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, Veteran’s Administration (VA), The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), or The Department of Agriculture/Rural Home Services (RHS).
If you are not sure what kind of mortgage you have, check your mortgage documents if you have them or call your loan servicer. Your mortgage statement should have their contact information.
You can also check:
- Fannie Mae Mortgage Loan Lookup
- Freddie Mac Loan Look-Up Tool
- FHA insured: Call (800) 569-4287 or HUD’s National Servicing Center at (877) 622-8525.
- Veteran’s Administration (VA) and Department of Agriculture/ Rural Housing Services (RHS): check mortgage documents or call your servicer. Loan documents may be located in public records.
What should I do if my mortgage is NOT federally backed?
You should still call your servicer to discuss options. Lenders are encouraged to offer assistance.
What do I need to do to get payment relief?
Tell your servicer you are having trouble making your payment and your hardship is COVID-19 related. You do not need to submit documentation to qualify.
What questions should I ask my loan servicer?
- How will I be required to pay back the amount owed after the forbearance period?
- Will I owe the entire unpaid amount in a lump sum once the “pause” period has ended or at the end of loan term?
- Can my loan term be extended so that missed payments are added to the end of my mortgage?
- Will my payments go up to cover the payments I missed and how long will I need to pay the increased payment?
- What are my other options to catch up my mortgage payments, like a payment plan?
- Is loan modification or refinancing an option for me?
- Will you put our agreement in writing?
What is forbearance?
A forbearance is when your mortgage servicer (the company that sends you your mortgage statement), allows you to pause or reduce your payments for a limited period of time. You will likely be required to repay the amounts.
If you have a federally backed loan, you are entitled to a 180-day forbearance and can extend it for up to an additional 180 days.
Will I have to pay a fee to get a forbearance or payment plan?
You do not need to pay a fee to enter into a forbearance agreement or payment plan. Companies that require you to pay money to them are likely trying to scam you. However, your servicer may charge fees for refinancing.
You should only work with your servicer or a HUD-approved housing counselor to obtain payment relief. You should keep copies of documents, write down the date, time, and name of anyone you speak with.
A foreclosure was filed against me before the COVID-19 crisis started. What will happen with my case?
Some courts are still entering judgments for foreclosure and holding foreclosure auctions. If you have been served, contact Bay Area Legal Services or another attorney right away.
Writs of possession are not being issued by most courts in Florida. A writ of possession is the last step in the process and is the legal authority for the sheriff to remove you from your home. It is likely that writs will not be served until after June 30, 2020.
Last updated: June 8, 2020
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If you live or have a case in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas or Sarasota counties, we may be able to help.