The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have issued notices to landlords and housing providers, as well as mortgage servicers, regarding protections for military families. The letters are a reminder that service members and veterans have rights under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) which must be adhered to.
Some military tenants have had to relocate or change their housing arrangements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, there have been rising complaints from military homeowners who have faced illegal foreclosures and other mortgage servicing violations, such as misleading communications, incorrect credit reporting, and lump sum payments to reinstate mortgages.
In the past, some large financial institutions have illegally seized the homes of military families. The CFPB says they are watching mortgage servicers closely and will hold them accountable for any illegal actions against military families. The Department of Justice has also warned they take their responsibility to safeguard the rights of service members and veterans seriously.
According to the CFPB, around 7.6 million homeowners have entered forbearance during the pandemic. The majority have now resumed making mortgage payments, but approximately 1.24 million mortgagees (including many military families) are still in forbearance programs due to expire soon.
The additional legal protections for service members and veterans recognize the important job service members and veterans play in safeguarding our country. They help to alleviate additional pressures, so service members can focus on defending our country. Protections include:
- Prohibiting foreclosures on certain service members’ mortgages without court orders
- Early termination clauses for residential leases without penalty upon receipt of military orders
- Eviction limitations