Bulletin: MA2020007

Date:
July 22, 2020
To:
All Massachusetts Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING - Special Bulletin - Extensions of Moratoriums on Evictions and Foreclosures

Dear Associates:

On April 20, 2020, MA Gov. Baker signed into law An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency. The Act can be viewed by clicking on this link. Section 5 of the Act prohibits publication of GL c. 244 § 14 foreclosure notices, exercise of the power of sale, entry, initiation of a foreclosure process, initiation of summary process actions, and initiations of actions to determine servicemember status. The moratorium applies to residential property as defined in GL c. 244, § 35B that is not vacant or abandoned. While the Act was scheduled to expire on August 18, 2020, the Act also allowed the Governor to extend the expiration date. On July 21, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker announced an extension of the moratorium through October 17, 2020 at 11:59 P.M. Information on the extension is available here: https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-extends-moratorium-on-evictions-and-foreclosures-to-october-17. The Governor continues to have the ability to extend the moratorium for periods not to exceed 90 days, as long as the COVID-19 emergency remains in effect and for a period of 45 days thereafter.

Accordingly, until the Act expires as set forth above, policies of title insurance may not be issued for residential property, as defined by the Act, if the foreclosure notice of publication, the exercise of the power of sale, the entry, the initiation of the foreclosure process, the summary process action, or the initiation of the servicemembers action occurred on or after April 20, 2020.

On a federal level, effective March 18, HUD suspended foreclosures and evictions on all FHA-insured Single-Family mortgages for 60 days, and FHFA directed that foreclosure and eviction is suspended for all mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for at least 60 days. Those suspensions have been extended, most recently through August 31, 2020.

If you have a foreclosure in the chain of title that was begun or completed on or after March 1, 2020, please contact your Massachusetts underwriter to determine the insurability of your transaction. The most recent guidance can be viewed by clicking on the links below.

HUD:  https://www.hud.gov/sites/dfiles/OCHCO/documents/2020-19hsngml.pdf

Fannie Mae: https://singlefamily.fanniemae.com/media/document/pdf/lender-letter-ll-2020-02-impact-covid-19-servicing?_ga=2.38072427.959708821.1593117314-270129850.1584118383

Freddie Mac: https://guide.freddiemac.com/app/guide/bulletin/2020-25   

Veterans Administration: https://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/documents/circulars/26_20_22.pdf  

USDA:  https://www.rd.usda.gov/sites/default/files/USDA_RD_AnnouncesExtension_ForeclosureEvictionReliefDIRECT06232020.pdf

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact your Massachusetts Underwriting team at massuwing@stewart.com or at 1-800-628-2988.

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.