Kentucky Rural Housing USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Housing Loan Program Affected by COVID-19
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.
* Visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for information on Rural Development loan payment assistance, application deadline extensions, and more.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMMEDIATE RELIEF
* Rural Development Guaranteed Loan Programs
Effective immediately until September 30, 2020, lenders may offer 180-day loan payment deferrals without prior agency approval for Business and Industry Loan Guarantees, Rural Energy for America Program Loan Guarantees, Community Facilities Loan Guarantees, and Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees. For additional information, see page 17721 of the March 31, 2020, Federal Register.
Rural Housing Service
Effective March 19, borrowers with USDA single-family housing Direct and Guaranteed loans are subject to a moratorium on foreclosure and eviction for a period of 60 days. This action applies to the initiation of foreclosures and evictions and to the completion of foreclosures and evictions in process.
Direct Loan Program:
• USDA has waived or relaxed certain parts of the application process for Single-Family Housing Direct Loans, including site assessments, and has extended the time period that certificates of eligibility are valid.
• A Direct Loan borrower who is experiencing a reduction of income by more than 10 percent can request a Payment Assistance package to see if he/she is eligible for payment assistance or for more assistance than currently received.
• Moratorium Assistance is available for Direct Loan borrowers experiencing medical bill expenses (not covered by insurance) or job loss because of COVID-19. Qualifying borrowers can receive a moratorium on house payments for a period of time, repaid at a later date.
• Direct Loan questions should be directed to USDA’s Customer Service Center at 800-414-1226 (7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Eastern Time Monday-Friday) or https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/loan-servicing. Call volume and wait times are high at this time.
Guaranteed Loan Program:
• Guaranteed Loan borrowers who are in default or facing imminent default due to a documented hardship can have payments reduced or suspended by their lender for a period not to exceed 12 months delinquency. Once the hardship is resolved, the lender can modify the loan to cure the delinquency or make up the missed payments based on the borrower’s individual circumstances.
•*USDA is granting lenders temporary exceptions pertaining to appraisals, repair inspections and income verification for the Single-Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) due to theCOVID-19 pandemic. Effective immediately, the following exception sto Agency guidance found atHB-1-3555 are in effect for a period of 60-days.
*Residential Appraisal Reports–Existing Dwelling: For purchase and non-streamlined refinance transactions, when an appraiser is unable to complete an interior inspection of an existing dwelling due to concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, an “Exterior-Only Inspection Residential Appraisal Report”, (FHLMC 2055/FNMA 2055) will be accepted. In such cases, appraisers are not required to certify that the property meets HUD HB 4000.1 standards. The appraisal must be completed in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Practice (USPAP) and the Uniform Appraisal Dataset (UAD).This exception is not applicable to new construction properties or construction-to-permanent loans. As a reminder, appraisals are not required for streamlined and streamlined-assist refinance transactions.
*Repair Inspections–Existing Dwelling: For loans for which a completion certification is not available due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a letter signed by the borrower confirming that the work was completed is permitted. Lenders must also provide further evidence of completion, which may include photographs of the completed work, paid invoices indicating completion, occupancy permits or other substantially similar documentation. All completion documentation must be retained in the loan file. This exception is not applicable to rehabilitation and repair loans noted in section 12.28 of HB-1-3555.
*Verbal Verification of Employment: Lenders must document and verify the borrower’s annual and repayment income in accordance with Agency regulations. Lenders should use due diligence in obtaining the most recent income documentation to re-verify the borrower’s repayment ability prior to closing. When the lender is unable to obtain a Verbal Verification of Employment(VVOE)within 10 business days of loan closing due to a temporary closure of the borrower’s employment, alternatives should be explored. For example, email correspondence with the borrower’s employer is an acceptable alternative to a VVOE. If the lender is unable to obtain a VVOE or acceptable alternative, the requirement will be waived when the borrower has a minimum of two months cash reserves. In the case of a reduction of income, the borrower’s reduced income must be sufficient to support the new loan payment and other non-housing obligations. Borrowers with no income at the time of closing are not eligible for SFHGLP loans regardless of available cash reserves.