Residential Evictions: What Homeowners Need to Know – December 2021 | Lowenstein Sandler LLP
As of December 30, 2021
This document is for informational purposes only, is not intended as legal advice, and is not a substitute for consulting a lawyer on specific facts and circumstances. This document does not constitute a solicitation, and your use of this document does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Lowenstein Sandler. Low-income homeowners should contact their legal services offices for assistance, as Lowenstein Sandler accepts pro bono cases only on the recommendation of our legal service partners. The business does not otherwise represent individual homeowners in residential foreclosure matters.
Can I be evicted from my home following foreclosure proceedings during the COVID-19 emergency?
Yes. The moratorium on state evictions for homeowners threatened with foreclosure ended on November 15, 2021. (See Executive Decree 249.)
Do I still have to pay my mortgage?
Yes. Sooner or later you will have to make your mortgage payments. If you need more time, however, help is available for some owners, 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, the FHA continues to offer various types of forbearance, which means mortgage payments can be delayed. Call your repairman to learn more.
The owners who hold single family mortgages Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may also be eligible for mortgage forbearance and should check with their agents. The owners who hold multi-family mortgages Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac can ask for indefinite abstention, until the government announces otherwise. Multi-family borrowers must accept certain tenant protections in order to obtain mortgage forbearance. For more information on mortgage forbearance, see 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 the 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 homeowners from eviction following foreclosure expired on September 30, 2021.
Can lenders still initiate foreclosure proceedings during this time?
Yes. The Superior Court Foreclosure Office accepts new cases and electronic filings in existing cases.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have been barred from initiating proceedings foreclosure against single-family mortgage holders until July 31. 2021. This moratorium on foreclosures has now expired.
Will the Foreclosure Office process cases during this time?
Yes. The foreclosure office administers parts of most foreclosure cases and handles most of the process when a foreclosure is “uncontested,” meaning the owner 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 Foreclosure is handling cases as it normally does. If you have questions about an ongoing uncontested foreclosure case, you can try contacting the Foreclosure Office at 609-421-6100 or [email protected]
Will courts hear foreclosure cases during this time?
Yes. There is no order staying court hearings in disputed foreclosure cases (in which the owner has responded to the complaint). Please note, however, that under an order of March 23, 2021, operations continue to be “predominantly remote with some in-person options”. Thus, most hearings, conferences and pleadings will take place by video or telephone. Please check with the court where the case is pending if you have any questions. Please also check the New Jersey Courts website for details on how and when proceedings will take place.
ELECTRICITY, GAS, WATER, COMMUNICATIONS
Can my utilities, water or sewer service be shut down during the COVID-19 crisis?
No. A law enacted on December 21, 2021 prohibits most utilities and water and sewer providers from shutting down the service until March 15, 2022, in response to unpaid bills accumulated during the pandemic. In addition, before placing, selling or exercising a lien on a residential property in response to such unpaid bills, the utility or water / sewer supplier must offer the residential customer a favorable payment plan. .
Can my phone and internet be cut off during the COVID-19 crisis?
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 closing the service and cannot close the service if the customer performs the payments required.
Do I still have to pay for utilities, water, sewage, telephone and Internet?
Yes. You still have to pay the electricity, gas, water, telephone or internet bills you normally pay. If you can’t pay now, you’ll have to pay later. DCA offers assistance to low-income tenants for certain utility bills. You can also call the customer service number on your utility bill, or search for 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 agencies that offer help.