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Inslee and DFI urge assistance for homeowners unable to make mortgage payments

Gov. Jay Inslee and Charlie Clark, director of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) announced yesterday that the state is exploring options for assisting Washington homeowners who are unable to make their mortgage payments due to financial disruption brought about by COVID-19 restrictions. 

In a statement yesterday, Gov. Inslee said that he requested DFI to establish a team dedicated to assisting homeowners who are presently unable to make their mortgage payments.

DFI has issued “guidance” to mortgage loan servicers to “do their part to alleviate the adverse impact caused by COVID-19 on mortgage borrowers (‘mortgagors’) who demonstrate they are not able to make timely payments.” 

The actions recommended to servicers by DFI include forbearing mortgage payments for 90 days from their due dates; refraining from reporting late payments to credit rating agencies for 90 days; ensuring that late payments during the COVID-19 pandemic do not affect the ability of mortgagors to obtain permanent loan modifications; waiving late payment fees and any online payment fees for a period of 90 days; postponing foreclosures for 90 days; and other provisions related to outreach and service disruption.

Under these circumstances, DFI has said that loans will not be subject to examiner criticism. 

The complete list of actions urged by DFI can be read in the guide it issued.

On the federal level, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and HUD have all suspended foreclosures for at least 60 days on single family mortgages backed by those entities. 

In addition to recent federal relief available to struggling homeowners, our financial institutions have responded positively to DFI’s recent guidance requesting that they offer immediate relief,” Clark said. “It is now extremely important that homeowners having difficulty paying their mortgage as a result of COVID-19 know about the options available to them.”

DFI is urging servicers to adopt their recommendations, as efforts to assist mortgagors and protect against widespread foreclosures are in the public interest.

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