Postpone Mortgage Payments?

(WSVN) - If you have lost your job, you probably cannot pay your mortgage this month. Legally, can you move it back a few months? Are churches allowed to open for Easter Sunday? Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser offers some answers.

You probably remember it. The feeling when you bought your first home.

Octavio Espinoza, postpone mortgage payments: “Kind of a dream house, ‘Finally, we did it! Now we have space for the kids everything that we wanted.'”

Along with the house came those mortgage payments. No problem for Octavio, until it was.

Octavio Espinoza: “Everything was OK. We were making the payments. Everything was fine until now.”

Until now as the coronavirus has destroyed businesses, wiped out jobs and cut off paychecks.

Octavio Espinoza: “So everybody is struggling. Now it has gotten to the point where it’s like, ‘Do I pay the mortgage or feed my kids?’ So I choose to feed my kids over the mortgage.”

Some banks are offering borrowers a break, but it’s not really a break, Octavio says.

Octavio Espinoza: “They can hold the payment up to 90 days, but at the end of the 90 days, you have to pay it all at once. What kind of help is that?”

Octavio wants to move his payments for the next few months to the end of mortgage and has had no luck.

Octavio Espinoza: “It’s been four hours already on the call, on hold and nobody’s answering, and if you go into the website, there is no help also.”

It’s so frustrating for homeowners like Octavio, but Howard, remember after Hurricane Irma, many lenders allowed homeowners to move payments to the end of the loan until they got back on their feet. Are they required to do that now with the coronavirus?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “No, they are not required to do it. The stimulus act simply requires lenders to let you miss up to six months of payments, but then, you probably have to pay the lump sum you missed at the end of the six months or try to get a loan modification, but some banks have better options for their customers like moving payments to the end of the mortgage, so try to get in touch with them.”

A couple more questions, Howard. We are entering Passover and Easter Sunday is coming up. Some churches want to hold services. Can they?

Howard Finkelstein: “Yes, the governor said churches will be allowed to have services, but some cities and counties believe they have the right to limit the attendance. In other words, making sure people sit six feet apart. Your pastor or rabbi should check with the city before the service to clarify things.”

We have heard from so many people who are trying to get unemployment and can’t get through the process. The state claims they are fixing the mess. When they do, do applicants get paid from when they were laid off? Or when they got their application into the system?

Howard Finkelstein: “Usually, benefits are paid from when you lost your job, but with the state’s failure to process unemployment applications, they have not made it clear if they are going back to the day you were let go, or from when your application went through, but legally, they should pay you retroactively from when you lost your job.”

After we talked to Octavio’s bank, they reached out to him.

Octavio said they gave him three options, including moving the loan payments to the end of the mortgage.

He would then have to pay the insurance and property taxes at the end of that period. He is happy his bank worked with him but warns if other banks don’t, watch out.

Octavio Espinoza: “Everybody is going to be in foreclosure, I guess, because if you can’t pay, like I said, you have to choose between feeding your kids or paying the mortgage, you’re going to lose the house.”

Glad we could help Octavio, and we want to try to help you.

It’s a difficult, confusing time as you try to weave your way through all the hurdles you are facing. Remember, we are here for you.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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