Regulators Offer Flexibility to Servicers Offering Mortgage Forbearance Options

Financial regulators on Friday issued a joint policy statement granting flexibility to mortgage servicers to work with borrowers struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Under the CARES Act, servicers are required to grant payment forbearances to impacted borrowers for up to 180 days, and possibly longer.

The agencies confirmed that these forbearances can be offered in a manner consistent with Regulation X. Therefore, these forbearance offers are exempt from certain loss mitigation procedural requirements and servicers do not need to obtain a complete application before offering CARES Act forbearance to the borrower. The agencies also said that they would not penalize servicers for failing to provide the required notice of acknowledgement to borrowers who submit incomplete applications within the five-day timeframe described in the servicing rules, provided that the notice is given before the end of the forbearance period. The agencies also said that they would not penalize servicers for failing to provide other loss mitigation notices and outreach efforts, so long as servicers demonstrate good-faith efforts to comply “within a reasonable timeframe.”

Finally, the agencies said they would not take action against servicers for delays in sending annual escrow statements, provided the servicers demonstrate good-faith efforts to comply “within a reasonable timeframe.” In addition to the statement, the CFPB offered further clarification in a set of frequently asked questions regarding compliance with the servicing rules during the COVID-19 emergency

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