New Jersey residents who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are being offered economic relief with regard to their mortgage and utility obligations. A summary of the initiatives being implemented is listed below.
On March 28, 2020, Governor Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey homeowners who are suffering financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 will be entitled to mortgage protections to relieve financial hardship.
In particular, financial institutions, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, in addition to over 40 other federal and state-chartered banks, credit unions, and servicers will have joined forces to protect New Jersey homeowners. Many more institutions are expected to sign on to support this effort, and the initiative has been endorsed by The New Jersey Bankers Association, CrossState Credit Union Association, and the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey which are encouraging all their members to adopt these policies.
Borrowers who contact their financial institution to request assistance may be eligible for the following relief for at least 90 days, consistent with the applicable guidelines:
A grace period for a mortgage payment
The opportunity to request additional relief, as practicable, upon a continued showing of hardship due to COVID-19.
The waiver or a refund from fees and charges including Mortgage-related late fees and other fees, including early CD withdrawals. This relief will only apply to fees and charges incurred after March 28, 2020.
During the 90 day grace period, financial institutions will not report derogatory remarks about borrowers who are taking advantage of the Covid-19 relief to any credit reporting agencies. However, the financial institution may report that the borrower is taking advantage of the forbearance, which does not typically impact a credit score.
In addition, for at least 60 days, the financial institutions will not initiate and foreclosure or eviction procedures.
To secure financial assistance, you should contact your mortgage service provider and submit an application for the requested relief. As of this writing, some financial institutions are requiring payment of the full amount that was in forbearance at the end of the 90 day grace period, while others are allowing the deferred amounts to be reworked or tacked onto the end of the mortgage period. The length and terms of the relief will need to be discussed and agreed to with your particular financial institution and should be considered on a case by case basis.
If your mortgage provider is uncooperative you can file a complaint with the Department of Banking and Insurance through the complaint form on the department website (https://www.state.nj.us/dobi/consumer.htm) or by contacting the department at (609) 292-7272 or 1-800-446-7467 (9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST Monday through Friday).
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities announced that the state’s public electric and gas utilities have universally agreed not to disconnect utility services at both residential and business locations time to protect the health and safety of New Jersey residents.
To confirm this policy and its application, all residents are encouraged to contact their utility service provider. To report any difficulty or issues with a utility company, residents should contact NJBPU’s Customer Assistance team by calling (800)-624- 0241 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.
We will continue to monitor the economic relief being offered to New Jersey residents and will provide updates as they become available. If you have particular concerns or questions, please reach out to us and we will provide you with the information you need to mitigate the financial impact on you or your business, during this unprecedented time of economic instability.