Homeowner and Landlord – Protection Guidelines

We understand that many homeowners and landlords have suffered a loss of income because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Homeowners may have lost all or part of their income because they lost their jobs, had their work hours cut, or had to take time off from work to care for family members.

Many landlords have also felt the impact of the pandemic, as tenants became unable to pay all or part of their rents.

Mortgage Forbearance

Homeowner and small landlords should contact their mortgage servicer – the company they send their mortgage payment to – for options that may be available. Financial institutions are required by federal law to know what entity owns the mortgage loans they service. When you contact your servicer to request payment relief, you should ask whether your mortgage is federally-backed (owned or guaranteed by a federal mortgage agency such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration, or the Veterans Administration) or non-federally-backed.

If you have a federally-backed mortgage, you can request forbearance pursuant to the federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) to help you avoid becoming delinquent on your mortgage.

If you have a non-federally-backed mortgage, you can also contact your servicer requesting forbearance along with other options that may be available to you.

For all mortgages, whether federally-backed or not, your servicer must provide you with a detailed description explaining why the forbearance request was denied, stating the exact reasons for the denial.

Under new state laws, until December 1, 2021, additional protections are available to homeowners and small landlords with properties of up to four units.

If the servicer’s explanation for the denial of a request for forbearance identifies missing information or errors in the request, you have 21 days to update and correct these issues.

Additional homeowner protections and lender requirements before a bank can file a notice of default on your mortgage include:

  • The ability for you to contest either the 30-day contact or the forbearance denial notice. (The 30-day contact refers to the minimum 30 days a lender must wait after contacting a borrower to seek payment before filing a Notice of Default.)
  • A requirement for lenders to file the forbearance denial notice along with the required declaration of borrower contact when recording a notice of default.
  • The right for homeowners or small landlords to file a cause of action (lawsuit) if their lender harms them by violating the law.

If you believe your lender has harmed you by violating the law, you should consult with an attorney. If you need low- or no-cost legal help, visit www.lawhelpca.org and/or https://housing.ca.gov/resources/tenant.html for additional resources.

Fact Sheet: New Protections and Guidelines for Homeowners and Small Landlords