New York is requiring mortgage lenders to suspend payments and banks to waive fees as economic struggles mount during the coronavirus pandemic.
The state Department of Financial Services will direct lenders to provide 90 days of mortgage relief for homeowners affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the waivers would be based on financial hardship — individuals who are either working part-time or are no longer employed because of the public health crisis.
If mortgage payments are suspended, it won't negatively affect credit reports. A grace period will allow borrowers to modify loans, there will be no late or online payment fees and foreclosures will be postponed or suspended.
"This is a real-life benefit," Cuomo said Thursday. "People are under tremendous economic pressure. Making a mortgage payment can be one of the number one stressors. Eliminating that stressor for 90 days, I think, will go a long way. Again, we'll reassess as the situation goes on if that should be extended or not."
So far, no action has been taken to postpone or suspend rent payments. Renters' groups criticized Cuomo's announcement because it would benefit landlords, not tenants.
One group, Housing Justice For All, launched a petition urging Cuomo to suspend rent payments. In a tweet, they wrote that most New Yorkers rent, but property owners "got a bailout."
"If they aren't paying their mortgages, we shouldn't have to pay rent!" the group added.
Cuomo also directed the Department of Financial Services to order banks to waive late fees and overdraft charges. Fees for ATM withdrawals and credit cards will be waived, too.
The coronavirus outbreak has taken an economic toll. The stock market dropped nearly 10,000 points since last month. Some workers had their hours reduced or were laid off because of limits on businesses, especially bars and restaurants.
Increased testing has identified more confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York. There are 4,152 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New York and 777 people are hospitalized after contracting the virus.
Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.