Update: Biden Administration Extends Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium, Again

Update: The Biden Administration has extended the foreclosure and eviction moratorium for homeowners with federally backed mortgages until the end of June 2021. These same homeowners have until the end of June to request mortgage payment forbearance if they haven’t already done so. The new order also allows up to an additional six months of mortgage forbearance for those who entered mortgage forbearance on or before June 30, 2020. The new order did not address extension of relief for renters.

Renters and homeowners with a federally backed mortgage who are struggling to make monthly payments can breathe easier. President Biden signed an executive order asking federal agencies to extend the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. Originally set to expire on January 31, the relief now lasts at least another month and in some cases two months, with the possibility of more extensions. 

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Relief for renters. On September 4, 2020, the Center for Disease Control announced a nationwide halt on evictions for qualified tenants. This was originally set to expire at the of December but was then extended until January 31, 2021. Now Biden has extended it again.

To qualify, tenants must complete a CDC Eviction Declaration Form and give it to their landlord. The form certifies that you have been specifically affected by the pandemic and have exhausted all other avenues for help. There is also an income requirement. Single renters must have earned less than $99,000 ($198,000 for couples) in 2020 or received a stimulus payment. Renters also qualify if they were not required to report income in 2019 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Biden has also requested that Congress provide $30 billion in additional rental assistance. The proposal sets $25 billion aside for direct rental relief to landlords, with the other $5 billion slated to help cover energy and water costs through programs such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Your state may also provide rental assistance. For example, Maryland has suspended evictions for tenants that can demonstrate the pandemic has caused a severe drop in income. In Michigan, utility companies are not allowed to cut off water service until at least March 31, 2021.

Help for homeowners. Holders of  mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are covered by the Biden administration’s extension of the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. The foreclosure moratorium for FHA-insured single family mortgages was extended to March 31, 2021. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae extended its moratorium on foreclosures to February 28, 2021.

The deadline to request forbearance has also been extended. Borrowers with an FHA-insured single family mortgage have until February 28, 2021, to request a forbearance in response to COVID-19.

If your mortgage is owned by a private company, check with your loan provider to see if it provides assistance. For example, Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo have their own payment deferral and forbearance programs. If you’re unsure of whether your loan is federally backed or not, call your mortgage servicer and ask. You can also see if Freddie Mac backs your loan at https://ww3.freddiemac.com/loanlookup, or Fannie Mae at www.knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup.

Keep in mind that these relief measures could be extended again as the pandemic continues. When the CARES Act was signed into law in March 2020, the eviction and foreclosure moratoria were slated to last only 60 days.

For more information about stimulus relief that could affect your finances, see 12 Ways the Biden Stimulus Package Could Put (or Keep) Money in Your Pocket.

Source: kiplinger.com

The Fair Housing Act now applies to LGBTQ renters and home buyers. Here’s what changed

HUD is expanding the Fair Housing Act

Trans and other members of the LGBTQ community are now protected under the Fair Housing Act, according to an announcement from the Department of Housing and Urban Development late last week.

The agency will now investigate complaints of housing discrimination relating to sexual orientation and gender identity — two classes not previously protected under the law. 

This is a critical change; HUD has recognized the history of housing discrimination against LGBTQ individuals and is offering legal protection to those affected for the first time.

Verify your home buying eligibility (Feb 16th, 2021)

LGBTQ housing discrimination: An “urgent” issue

“Housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity demands urgent enforcement action,” said Jeanine M. Worden, the acting assistant secretary of HUD’s Fair Housing office.

“That is why HUD, under the Biden Administration, will fully enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Worden continues, “Every person should be able to secure a roof over their head free from discrimination, and the action we are taking today will move us closer to that goal.”

This change is in line with the Biden Administration’s goals to reduce discrimination in housing, and to make renting and home buying more accessible and affordable.

What are Fair Housing protections?

The Fair Housing Act — technically Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 — protects Americans from discrimination when:

  • Renting or buying a property
  • Applying for a mortgage
  • Seeking housing assistance
  • Participating in any other housing-related activity

Seven classes are explicitly protected in the Act, including race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, disability and sex. 

Prior to HUD’s latest announcement, “sex” had meant biological sex.

Now, under the new expansions, the Fair Housing Act also protects against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation as well.

How this change helps LGBTQ renters and homebuyers

Thanks to the changes, LGBTQ Americans can now file complaints with HUD if they feel they’re discriminated against at any point while seeking housing.

This could include discrimination by a real estate agent, mortgage professional, rental property owner, apartment manager, or anyone else involved in the housing process.

HUD offers two examples of what LGBTQ housing discrimination might look like:

  • “A transgender woman is asked by the owner of her apartment building not to dress in women’s clothing in the common areas of the property.”
  • “A gay man is evicted because his landlord believes he will infect other tenants with HIV/AIDS.”

If you’ve experienced these or any other types of housing discrimination because of your gender identity or sexual orientation, file a complaint at HUD.gov/FairHousing.

Complaints dating back to January 20, 2020, will be investigated.

Why the Fair Housing Act is being expanded

There are three reasons HUD has expanded Fair Housing protections to trans and other LTBTQ Americans.

First, there’s President Biden’s Day 1 executive order, which calls on government agencies to “prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.”

According to agency spokespeople, HUD is the first department to comply with this executive order.

A new interpretation of the law

The recent Supreme Court case Bostock v. Clayton County also plays a role. In the 2019 case, the court found that a transgender worker’s firing was a direct violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and that “sex” protections did indeed apply. 

“Homosexuality and transgender status are inextricably bound up with sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote.

“Not because homosexuality or transgender status are related to sex in some vague sense or because discrimination on these bases has some disparate impact on one sex or another, but because to discriminate on these grounds requires an employer to intentionally treat individual employees differently because of their sex.”

According to HUD, the ruling clarified how the Civil Rights Act — including its Fair Housing provisions — should be interpreted moving forward.

“Enforcing the Fair Housing Act to combat housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity isn’t just the right thing to do-it’s the correct reading of the law after Bostock,” said Damon Y. Smith, HUD’s principal deputy general counsel.

“We are simply saying that the same discrimination that the Supreme Court has said is illegal in the workplace is also illegal in the housing market.”

A history of housing discrimination

HUD also cited numerous studies surrounding housing discrimination and the LGBTQ community in its decision to expand Fair Housing protections.

One study, for example, found that same-sex male couples were significantly less likely to receive responses when seeking a rental property. Another found discrimination against transgender women in homeless shelters.

With the expansion of the Fair Housing Act, there’s now a legal path to recourse for individuals who have been barred from housing or discriminated against in this manner.

Source: themortgagereports.com

Travelers may now be breaking the law by refusing to wear a face mask

Travelers may now be breaking the law by refusing to wear a face mask



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Biden tells HUD to reassess its Fair Housing policies

New U.S. President Joe Biden has put racial equality in housing at the top of his agenda in his first week in the White House.

On Tuesday he signed several executive orders, including one that directs the Department of Housing and Urban Development to reassess the impact of regulatory actions on fair housing policies and laws. It orders the HUD to ensure that the requirements of the Fair Housing Act are being followed.

The Hill reported that Biden’s order states that the Fair Housing Act “requires the federal government to advance fair housing and combat housing discrimination, including disparate impact discrimination that appears neutral but has an unjustified discriminatory effect in practice.”

Disparate impact is a legal doctrine that enables courts to consider certain policies and practices discriminatory if it is found that it has a disproportionately adverse impact on any group based on race, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability, and there is no legitimate business necessity for that policy. The U.S. Supreme Court found in its “Inclusive Communities” decision in 2015 that disparate impact is a cognizable form of discrimination within the Fair Housing Act.

Under President Donald Trump, the White House revised the HUD’s interpretation of the disparate impact rule, making it more difficult for plaintiffs to prove discrimination under this theory of proof, The Hill reported. Last year, a federal judge blocked the HUD from implementing that new rule.

Biden’s executive order calls for the HUD to reassess and determine if the disparate impact rule decreed under Trump hurts any group’s access to fair housing, and whether or not it should return to the previous standard.

Biden last week signed a series of executive orders that demanded the federal government “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all”.

“The nation is ready for change,” Biden said on Tuesday. “But government has to change as well. We need to make equity and justice part of what we do every day … Again, I’m not promising we can end it tomorrow, but I promise you: We’re going to continue to make progress to eliminate systemic racism, and every branch of the White House and the federal government is going to be part of that effort.”

Source: realtybiznews.com