AG Neronha: Extending foreclosure moratorium a ‘necessary step’ as pandemic continues

Consumer Investigations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Some good news came last week for homeowners unable to make their monthly payments because of the coronavirus pandemic.

President Joe Biden extended the foreclosure moratorium and mortgage payment forbearance last week.

For Rhode Island homeowners, this means there’s an extension on federally guaranteed mortgages, such as Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, and a bigger window for borrowers to request a pause or a reduction in mortgage payments.

“It’s clear that given the economic circumstance that people are in this is a necessary step,” R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha said.

“The last thing we want in the middle of a pandemic, and obviously in the middle of winter, is for people to be homeless,” Neronha said. “That’s a problem that will only exacerbate the pandemic.”

While the foreclosure moratorium has been extended through the end of June, the federal eviction moratorium is scheduled to expire at the end of March.

Neronha said in Rhode Island, “self-help” evictions are illegal.

“I get where these landlords are coming from on this, they’re not getting the income as this pandemic has dragged,” he said. “You can’t take the law into your hands and move a renter out for failure to pay rent.”

The key to preventing your landlord from throwing you out of your apartment if they sell the property is to have a written lease, according to Neronha. 

“The terms of the lease may address that issue, if there’s a change in ownership of the building,” he said. “You’re going to want to look at your lease.”

Neronha said one of the big problems that lies with Rhode Island renters is many aren’t under a lease and pay rent month-to-month.

“Under those circumstances your rights are much circumscribed,” he said. 

If you’re in this situation, Neronha suggested reaching out to his office’s Consumer Protection Unit to learn more about your rights.

If you aren’t able to pay your rent or your mortgage because of the pandemic, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has a list of resources that may be able to help.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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