Struggling to Pay Housing Bills? Here’s What You Need to Know
Seeking housing assistance can be a complex, confusing process.
Whether dealing with a job loss, reduced hours at work or other unanticipated financial challenges, these circumstances can cause fear, anxiety and stress – especially when it can lead to losing a home.
If you are struggling to pay your mortgage or rent or are facing foreclosure, don’t wait to get help. We've partnered with non-profit GreenPath Financial Wellness. They offer access to free housing counseling and other financial counseling services.
Here’s what you can do now:
Contact Your Mortgage Service Provider or Landlord
If you own your home, contact your mortgage servicer provider as soon as you think you have a problem and explain your current situation.
Most creditors are willing to work out alternate payment plans, especially in emergency situations such as job loss or major illness.
To find out what institution holds your loan, contact your mortgage servicer, call 1-888-679-6377, or go to mers-servicerid.org/sis/.
If you are renting, reach out to your landlord ASAP to discuss what options may be available to you, such as payment deferral, a repayment plan, or adjusting the lease terms based upon a recent hardship. Whatever decision you and your landlord come to, be sure to get it in writing.
Understand Your Options
When working with a service provider, it’s important that you take the time to understand the options being presented to you so that you can make the right choice for your individual situation. Plan options will vary based on your loan type and the severity of your financial situation.
In brief, types of assistance include:
Repayment Plan. This is one of the simplest options. Your lender may agree to allow you to modify regular monthly mortgage payment amounts. Or, over a period of time agreed upon with your servicer, you make your regular mortgage payment plus an additional amount to catch up the past due amount.
Modify Your Loan. This is a written agreement that changes the original terms of the loan. You may be able to change the interest rate, the payment amount, and other factors.
Forbearance. This pauses or reduces your monthly payments for a period of time.
Refinancing. This is another option to lower your mortgage payment by taking out a new loan.
For renters: If you are unable to work out a solution with your landlord, explore other options that may be available to you:
Tenant Rights. You have certain rights as a legal tenant. Visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website to review them.
Fair Housing Laws. HUD also has extensive laws and regulations on fair housing issues. Visit their website to research them and determine how and if they may apply to you.
Legal Services Corporation is an independent nonprofit established by Congress to provide financial support for low-income Americans. Search by your zip code to locate aid in your local area.
Beware of Foreclosure Fraud
Be sure to find a reputable resource for information on working with lenders, and be especially wary of anyone who claims they can “fix” your credit. There are no quick fixes when it comes to protecting your home, and no service can guarantee to reduce your payments, interest rates, or principle. The only thing that can fix your credit report is time and a positive payment history.
Only work with nonprofit housing counselors who have been approved by HUD. You can check HUD.gov for a list of approved counselors.
If you suspect any scams, report the organization to the FTC.
Take Advantage of Free Housing Counseling
Through our partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness, you have access to free housing counseling and other financial counseling services. GreenPath specializes in helping people improve their financial wellness. GreenPath offers free consultations and guidance to help people manage debt, save money, and meet their financial goals.
Call their counseling line at 1-877-337-3399 (or request a call on their website) to speak with one of their financial wellness experts today. It’s free, no pressure, and 100% confidential.
Struggling homeowners can also contact the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (888-995-HOPE) which offers free foreclosure prevention counseling.