On October 4, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced on its website that the deadline to request initial forbearance for a COVID-19 hardship for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (HUD/FHA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been extended. Specifically, the CFPB tells borrowers that if their loan is backed by one of these agencies, then “your mortgage servicer is authorized to approve initial COVID hardship forbearance requests until the COVID-19 National Emergency is officially over. Previously the deadline was set for September 30, 2021.”

The CFPB announcement also tells borrowers that “[i]f your loan is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, there is not currently a deadline for requesting an initial COVID hardship forbearance.”

HUD/FHA announced this policy change in its Mortgagee Letter 2021-24 issued on September 27. Similarly, the USDA announced on September 27 that it was removing the previous “September 30, 2021 deadline for COVID-19 impacted Direct Loan borrowers to request mortgage payment assistance.”

In line with these announcements, the VA issued Circular 26-21-20 on September 29 to instruct servicers to approve forbearance requests throughout the duration of the COVID-19-related national emergency for those “borrowers who have not received a COVID-related forbearance as of the date of this Circular.”

Lenders servicing any of the above loan types are encouraged to review the relevant announcements and make any necessary updates to their policies and procedures.