This information was last updated on June 28, 2021.
There is currently a moratorium (or pause) on most foreclosures under federal law. This moratorium expires on July 31, 2021. This means that the mortgage company cannot file a new foreclosure or proceed with a pending foreclosure. Please note: this moratorium does not apply to every mortgage. It only applies to the 70% of mortgages that are “government-insured,” such as FHA-insured mortgages or mortgages owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Veterans Administration, or the USDA.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia has issued a separate moratorium (or pause) on sheriff sales for owner-occupied homes. This moratorium expires on September 1, 2021. During this time, if you live in your home, it cannot be sold at sheriff sale.
The federal American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March 2021 includes money for homeowners as part of the Homeowner Assistance Fund. Pennsylvania will receive $350 million to help homeowners affected by COVID. This money should be available in Fall 2021 to help homeowners with mortgages, property taxes, utility expenses, and more. Details are not yet available, but homeowners should pay attention for further developments.
If you’re behind in your mortgage and/or a mortgage foreclosure has been filed against you, here is what you should know:
- Are you working with a housing counselor? You can connect with a free housing counselor (and legal aid lawyer, if necessary) to help guide you through the process by calling the Save Your Home Philly Hotline at 215-334-4663.
- Conciliation conferences in the Philadelphia Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program have been on hold since March 2020. They are now restarting, but not in person. Homeowners will be able to participate over the phone. You will receive a letter from the Court at least 30 days before your conference.
- If you lost income or faced increased expenses after March 1, 2020 you should contact your mortgage company right away and request a COVID-19 forbearance. If you are in a forbearance, the mortgage company will allow you to make no payments or reduced payments for a period of time. More information about forbearances from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is available here.
- If you are now able to afford to make your payments again, you can apply for a payment deferral or loan modification that will give you an affordable monthly payment and bring you current on your mortgage.
- Most sheriff sales that were scheduled for April 2020 through August 2021 have all been postponed. This includes all sheriff sales for owner-occupied houses. They may resume in September 2021. If you receive a letter that your lender is attempting to list your home for a Sheriff’s Sale, call the Save Your Home Philly Hotline immediately for assistance. Click here for the rescheduled sheriff sale dates.
- Are you have trouble with your reverse mortgage? You may have new rights as a result of federal law passed in response to COVID 19, as well as new HUD policy. Call the Save Your Home Philly Hotline at 215-334-4663 to talk with a free housing counselor about your rights.
- Click here for additional helpful information for homeowners during the COVID crisis from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- For more information from CLS about mortgage foreclosure during COVID click here.
Electric, gas, and landline utility companies are currently allowed to shut off service for nonpayment, subject to certain terms. Low-income customers at or below 300% Federal Poverty Level should be protected from gas or electric shutoff, as long as they follow certain steps. Please visit What to Do to Avoid Shutoff for information about avoiding gas and electric termination.
The Philadelphia Water Department will restore water service to all delinquent customers whose water has previously been terminated. The restoration fee will be waived. Customers that have been shut off for not repairing defects in their private plumbing will still need to make the necessary repairs to have their water restored. There will be no water shutoffs until April 2022. However, late payment penalties are now being charged on water bills, and referrals to collection agencies will resume August 2, 2021.
The Philadelphia Register of Wills is currently closed for in-person visits. They are scheduling online appointments. Some heirs will experience delays in raising the estates of their loved ones. Raising an estate is often necessary for heirs to change a deed out of the name of a deceased owner and assume a mortgage loan where the borrower has died. For questions regarding probate or estates, you can e-mail ROWonline@phila.gov or to speak to a CLS advocate, call 214-981-3700.
The Philadelphia Department of Records is re-opening for full in-person services with no appointments necessary on July 6, 2021.
If you owe property taxes, here is what you should know:
- Programs are available to help you with your back taxes and save your home.
- Are you working with a housing counselor? You can connect with a free housing counselor (and legal aid lawyer, if necessary) to help guide you through the property tax process by calling the Save Your Home Philly Hotline at 215-334-4663.
- All tax hearings in the Court of Common Pleas, including Rule hearings previously scheduled for Courtroom 676 of City Hall, have been postponed and will be rescheduled. You will receive a letter from the Court at least 30 days before your hearing.
- All tax hearings at the Tax Review Board that were postponed because of COVID-19 have now been rescheduled. You will receive a letter from the Tax Review Board approximately 30 days before your hearing. There are options to participate in-person or remotely. Call the Tax Review Board at 215-686-5216 or e-mail email@example.com for more information about scheduling.
- All tax Sheriff’s Sales previously are postponed until September 2021. Click here for the rescheduled Sheriff’s Sale dates.
- The City of Philadelphia has posted guidance on several kinds of City taxes, including property taxes.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court is open, with some changes. You can still file for bankruptcy, and if you file, the automatic protection from your creditors will still apply, if needed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Bankruptcy Court is only holding hearings by telephone.
If you are in an active bankruptcy case, you should immediately contact your bankruptcy attorney.
If you have are in an active bankruptcy case and do not have a lawyer, you should call the Bankruptcy Court for information on how to participate in hearings by phone. The Bankruptcy Court’s website has posted the phone conference numbers for each judge along with instructions.
All meetings of creditors with Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 trustees, sometimes called 341 meetings, will be held via video conferencing or telephone. Your trustee or bankruptcy attorney will provide you with instructions in advance of your meeting.