Bulletin: SLS2020008

Date:
April 20, 2020
To:
All Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Foreclosures, Evictions, and Tolling of Time Limits: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020, Declarations of State of Emergency, and Other State and Local Orders [Revised 9-3-2020] [Revised 9-14-2020]

Dear Associates:

On March 13, 2020, the United States issued a Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak, beginning March 1, 2020.

Many states, by governors or agencies or courts, or other Governmental Entities, have issued emergency orders or proclamations with varying provisions establishing moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions, and tolling various time limits. For example:

  • The State of New Hampshire declared in Emergency Order #4, as modified by Emergency Order #24, that, during the State of Emergency, no owner of non-restricted or restricted property may initiate eviction proceedings and no eviction order shall be issued or enforced, and that all judicial and non-judicial foreclosure actions are prohibited.
  • California Executive Order N-28-20 places limitations on certain evictions and foreclosures.
  • Some state supreme courts and lower courts have tolled limitations periods.
  • Some courts have applied equitable tolling to statutes of limitations during emergencies.

On March 27, 2020, the United States enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Section 4022 allows the borrower on a federally backed one-to-four family mortgage loan to request forbearance from payment for up to 180 days and also to request an extension of the forbearance for up to an additional 180 days. This section also establishes a moratorium on foreclosures or evictions on these mortgages for not less than the 60-day period beginning March 18, 2020. Section 4023 authorizes the multifamily borrower of certain federally backed multifamily mortgages to request forbearance for up to 30 days and to extend the forbearance for up to two additional 30-day periods. The borrower may not evict tenants during the forbearance. Section 4024 establishes a temporary moratorium on eviction filings on certain single and multifamily housing. During the 120-day period beginning on March 27, 2020, the lessor cannot initiate an eviction and thereafter the landlord may not require the tenant to vacate before a date that is 30 days after the lessor gave notice.

Separately for FHA insured mortgages and loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there was a 60-day moratorium on foreclosures and evictions as of March 18, 2020. On August 27, FHFA announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are extending their foreclosure and eviction moratorium to December 31, 2020. The FHA made a similar announcement. 

On September 1, 2020, the CDC issued an Agency Order entitled “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19,” suspending certain residential evictions from September 4 - December 31, 2020. The order does not suspend mortgage foreclosures. To take advantage of the suspension, the tenant must sign a declaration form averring the following:

  1. The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  2. The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
  3. The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  4. The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and
  5. Eviction would likely render the individual homeless— or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting— because the individual has no other available housing options.

Company policy: Do not insure based on foreclosures begun or completed on or after March 1, 2020, until we notify you otherwise, unless you secure Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter approval.

Do not waive or assume a lien or procedural requirement has expired if it has not expired before March 1, 2020, until we notify you otherwise, unless you secure Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter approval.

As a reminder, you are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with the information contained in all Bulletins and Special Alerts as posted on Virtual Underwriter (www.vuwriter.com), whether you receive them by electronic distribution or not.

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None