Homeowners affected by Hurricane Laura and the California wildfires have relief options, according to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Under Fannie Mae’s guidelines for single-family mortgages impacted by a natural disaster:

  • Affected homeowners may request mortgage assistance by contacting their mortgage servicer following a disaster
  • Mortgage servicers are authorized to suspend or reduce a homeowner’s mortgage payment for up to 90 days – even without establishing contact – if the servicer believes the homeowner was affected by the disaster
  • Homeowners affected by disaster are often eligible to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months

During the temporary payment break, homeowners will not incur late fees, and foreclosure and other legal proceedings are suspended.

There are also a number of options available to help homeowners catch up on missed payments, Fannie Mae said.

The GSE said that homeowners currently on a COVID-19-related forbearance plan and are subsequently impacted by a natural disaster should contact their servicer to discuss options.

“We are monitoring these situations, and we urge those in the path of the storm and fires to focus on their safety first as they prepare for the potential impact of these events,” said Malloy Evans, senior vice president and single-family chief credit officer at Fannie Mae. “Along with our lending and servicing partners, Fannie Mae is committed to ensuring assistance is available to homeowners and renters in need. We encourage residents whose homes, employment or income are impacted by this storm and fires to seek available assistance as soon as possible.”

Freddie Mac said that mortgage servicers could immediately leverage its short-term forbearance plans to provide relief to homeowners affected by the hurricane or the wildfires. Once again, homeowners on COVID-19-related forbearance plans should contact their servicers to discuss options, Freddie said.

Freddie Mac said that relief options for homeowners in eligible disaster areas included suspending foreclosures and providing forbearance for up to 12 moths, and waiving penalties and late fees against homeowners impacted by disasters.

“The immediate priority is for residents to get safely out of harm’s way,” said Bill Maguire, vice president of single-family servicing management for Freddie Mac. “Once out of harm’s way, we strongly encourage homeowners whose homes or places of employment are impacted to call their mortgage servicer – the company they send their monthly mortgage payments to – so they can learn about available relief options. Working with out servicers, we stand ready to ensure mortgage relief is made available to homeowners affected by these natural disasters.”