(EAST ORANGE/ORANGE, NJ) - Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake has introduced legislation requiring a uniformed forbearance of mortgage loans and the suspension of rental payments for any resident who requests a payment reprieve during the existing COVID-19 public health emergency. Certain business owners with a commercial mortgage or rental property would also be eligible to receive the payment freeze.

In order to make sure no one who needs the payment relief is denied it, all requests would be granted. For mortgages, banks would not be allowed to ask for the total sum owed after the 90th day but would be required to put the deferred payments on the backend of the mortgage loan – thereby extending the loan term with no extra fees, interest or impact on credit score.

Renters would need to request payment suspension to their landlord in writing, such as via letter, email or text, and both the tenant and landlord would later come to an agreement on a reasonable repayment structure. No tenant would receive penalties for the request either.

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This bill codifies the Governor’s executive orders by requiring banks to provide a uniformed forbearance, adding processes to provide immediate relief to renters and expanding upon the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon the bill (A-3948) being introduced, Assemblywoman Timberlake (D-Essex, Passaic) released the following statement:

“Right now, countless New Jerseyans are struggling financially due to the extreme economic circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Governor is on the front lines. I applaud his leadership during this unprecedented time and I’m glad to serve alongside him and Speaker Coughlin. Although a monumental moratorium on evictions and foreclosures occurred and banks agreed to mortgage forbearance, some landlords are unfortunately still expecting rent from their struggling tenants and threatening eviction after the pandemic ends. Meanwhile, some banks are offering forbearance but requiring all monies due on the 90th day, which would later deepen the foreclosure crisis.

“We cannot allow residents to be penalized for a worldwide pandemic that has put countless people out of work and introduced more stress into their daily lives than ever before. The uniformed stipulations in this legislation will help ensure that no one loses their home or small business because they are unable to pay the bills at this time.

“I’m thankful to be working with state leadership and departments, and for this bill to have the endorsement of several housing organizations and partners, including the Housing Community Development Network of NJ, NJ Citizen Action, Fair Share Housing and Ironbound Community Corporation.

“We need to do everything we can to make sure our communities make it through this crisis – and this is one way our state can do that. I hope this bill will become law sooner than later.”

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