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Mortgage relief available to homeowners affected by Covid-19

If you have a federally-backed mortgage and have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can ask your bank to pause your mortgage payments for up to 180 days (six months). You can extend this suspension for an additional 180 days, for a full year of no mortgage payments.

Pausing mortgage payments is called a “forbearance.” The suspended payments are not forgiven, and you must pay them back at a later time. When the forbearance ends, your bank must work with you to make these suspended payments.  Depending on your situation, the bank could:

  • Put the payments at the end of your loan,

  • Offer a repayment plan, or

  • Offer a loan modification.


Reverse mortgage borrowers may also be eligible for relief.


Any time you speak with a bank employee, write down:

  • The date and time of the conversation,

  • What was said, and

  • The employee’s name and ID number or extension (if they have one).

Five steps for requesting a

COVID-19 forbearance


Check if You Have A Federally-Backed Mortgage

A federally-backed mortgage is a loan owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or insured by the FHA, VA, or USDA. Most reverse mortgages are federally backed FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs). If you have a reverse mortgage—you can assume the loan is federally backed and go to Step 2.

If you have a regular (not reverse) mortgage look up here to find out if Fannie or Freddie own it:


If your loan isn’t there, you may have a VA, FHA,  or USDA loan. First, look for a notation on your loan documents (note and mortgage). If you do not have these documents handy, you can look up the loan documents on your county’s Recorder of Deeds’ website.


Residents of Cook County can look them up here:

Another way to check if you have an FHA, VA, or USDA loan is to contact those agencies:


Finally, you can ask your bank if your loan is federally-backed.

Even if you do not have a federally-backed loan, ask your bank for help. If your bank offers you relief, put it in writing. Do not accept any “deal” that is not in writing.


Get Your Bank's Contact Information

Find your bank’s fax number, email address, and/or a mailing address (preferably all three). This information is usually on your bank’s website or on statements they send you. If you’re in foreclosure, get the same information for your bank’s attorneys. This information should be on the firm’s website and on any court filings.


Download and Fill Out This Form Letter

Insert your bank’s contact information and explain how COVID-19 has affected you. You do not need to include any additional documents, such as bank statements or paystubs.


Send Your Forbearance Request to Your Bank

Send your bank the COVID-19 forbearance request by fax, email, and/or mail (preferably all three). If you are in foreclosure, send the same letter to your bank’s attorneys. Keep proof of sending your letter (sent email, fax confirmation, and/or a USPS receipt) in a safe place.


Follow Up

Call your bank a few days after sending your request and confirm they received it. If they have not received it, confirm their contact information and send it again. At the same time, request your forbearance over the phone. Keep a written record of that call. A written request is easier to prove than a telephone call, so still send your request even if you ask for a forbearance over the phone.

If your bank has received your request, confirm:

  • Your loan has been placed in forbearance,

  • No payment is currently due, and

  • The length of the forbearance.


Ask your bank to confirm all this in writing. If you do not get written confirmation within a week, contact the bank again to confirm the forbearance and, again, ask for confirmation in writing.

One month before your forbearance ends, contact your bank again. You can extend the forbearance once, for an additional 180 days.

Whenever your forbearance ends (either the initial or second forbearance period), your bank must work with you to repay the suspended payments. For a list of possible repayment options, read this FAQ. You should also contact a HUD-certified housing counselor to understand your options.

If you are sure you have a federally-backed loan and the bank refuses your forbearance request or refuses to put it in writing, send your bank a Notice of Error. [Download a form Notice of Error here

You may need to send this notice to a different fax, email, and/or mailing address than your forbearance request, so check the bank’s website again. If your bank does not post its Notice of Error contact information on its website, call them and ask for it. If you are in foreclosure, send a copy of your Notice of Error to your bank’s attorneys.

You should send your Notice of Error via fax, email, and/or mail (preferably all three). Keep proof of sending your letter (sent email, fax confirmation, and/or a USPS receipt) in a safe place. Call the bank a week after you send the Notice of Error. If the bank has not agreed to a forbearance, contact us.

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