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As of April 7, 2022
This document is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice and does not replace consultation with an attorney on specific facts and circumstances. This document is not a solicitation and your use of this document does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Lowenstein Sandler. Low-income homeowners should contact their legal services offices for assistance, as Lowenstein Sandler only accepts pro bono cases on the recommendation of our legal services partners. The firm does not otherwise represent individual homeowners in residential foreclosure cases.
Can I be evicted from my home as a result of foreclosure proceedings during the COVID-19 emergency?
Yes. The state‘s eviction moratorium for homeowners facing foreclosure ended on November 15, 2021. (See Executive Order 249.)
Do I still have to pay my mortgage?
Yes. You will have to make your mortgage payments sooner or later. If you need more time, however, help is available for some landlords, as explained below.
If you have a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured mortgage and live in the mortgaged property as your primary residence, you have several options. To help families recover from the pandemic, FHA continues to offer various types of forbearance, which means mortgage payments may be delayed. Call your repairman to learn more.
Owners who hold single family mortgages from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may also qualify for mortgage forbearance and should check with their servicers. Owners who hold multi-family mortgages of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can request forbearance indefinitely, until the government announces otherwise. Multi-family borrowers must agree to certain tenant protections in order to obtain mortgage forbearance. For more information on mortgage forbearance, go to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s help page.
Homeowners with non-federal mortgages should check the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency website for updates on available help and to access a list of counselors by county.
If you need advice on financial assistance available to homeowners, you can also contact Housing Help NJ.
Is there a national moratorium on evictions?
No. The moratorium that had protected some owners from eviction following foreclosure expired on September 30, 2021.
Can lenders still start foreclosure proceedings during this time?
Yes. The Superior Court Foreclosures Office accepts new cases and electronic filings in existing cases.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have been barred from initiating proceedings foreclosure against single-family mortgage holders through July 31. 2021. This foreclosure moratorium has now expired.
Will the Foreclosures Office be processing cases during this time?
Yes. The Foreclosures Office administers portions of most foreclosure cases and handles most of the process when a foreclosure is “uncontested,” meaning the homeowner has not filed a response to the complaint. Under a June 25, 2020 order issued and repeatedly extended by the New Jersey Supreme Court, the Office of Foreclosures is proceeding with cases as it normally does. If you have questions about an uncontested foreclosure case that is pending, you can try contacting the Office of Foreclosures at 609-421-6100 or [email protected]
Will the courts hear foreclosure cases during this time?
Yes. There are no orders staying court hearings in contested foreclosure cases (in which the landlord has responded to the complaint). Please note, however, that under a March 23, 2021 order, operations continue to be “primarily remote with some in-person options.” Thus, most hearings, conferences and pleadings will be held by video or telephone. Please check with the court in which the case is pending if you have any questions. Please also check the New Jersey Courts website for updates on how and when the proceeding will take place.
ELECTRICITY, GAS, WATER, COMMUNICATIONS
Can my utilities, water, or sewer be turned off?
Not if you have a pending request for utility assistance or if you submit such a request before June 15, 2022. On March 25, 2022, the state enacted legislation that extends utility outage protection for certain residential customers. If you submit or have submitted an initial application for a state utility assistance program before June 15, 2022, you are protected for 60 days after the date of submission against the shutdown of your electric, gas, water or sewer and against any liens placed, sold or applied against the property for unpaid charges related to such services. If you complete or have completed the Utility Assistance Application, you are protected until the state rules on your application.
If you have a pending request for utility assistance and your utility or water/sewer services were cut off between March 15, 2022 and March 25, 2022, service must be restored immediately. The state agency that administers the Utilities Assistance Program will notify your utility and water/sewer providers every two weeks if you have submitted or completed an application and are eligible for these protections. . The agency will also notify your suppliers when they make a decision on your application.
After this additional protection expires, the provider should offer you certain payment plans that allow you to pay what you owe over time. If you do not agree to the payment plan within 30 days, the utility provider may take appropriate enforcement action, including shutting down your services or placing a lien on the property.
If you do not have a pending request for utility assistance and do not file one by June 15, your provider is authorized to discontinue service and/or place a lien on the property.
Can my phone and internet be cut off?
Yes, since January 1, 2022. After that date, under Executive Order 246, an Internet or voice service provider must offer to enroll a customer in specified payment plans before cutting service and cannot cut service if the customer makes the required payments.
Can I get help paying for my utilities, water, sewer, phone and internet?
Perhaps. DCA offers low-income tenants assistance with certain utility bills. You can also call the customer service number on your utility bill or find the number here to try to work out a payment plan. or you can check the Board of Public Utilities website for a list of organizations that offer help.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.