Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac set the national standard when they announced in March that multifamily owners could defer up to three months of payments on their loans, provided they complete the necessary paperwork and pay the necessary fees.
These programs will be in place at least through summer, but there are strings attached, including a prohibition on evictions, paperwork, and legal fees. Overall, the benefits are questionable.
To find out how other lenders are approaching the issue, we decided to survey our network. In the past week, we contacted more than 50 local, regional, and national lenders and got more than 30 responses.
- 73% of lenders in our survey offer some form of forbearance to customers, mostly on a case-by-case basis.
- 16% offer these programs proactively.
- The most common form of forbearance is full principal and interest deferral, typically from three to six months, with a twelve-month repayment window.
- The other form of forbearance is interest-only payments, typically up to three months.
- Only 13% report receiving a significant number of these requests. Most multifamily owners are making their payments on time with no modifications.
- 36% specifically reported significant problems with retail and hospitality. Other areas of softness include assisted living, owner-occupied real estate, and, in some cases, office.
Find out what programs your lender is offering customers. Being aware of your options can help you plan for future scenarios.
If you value your relationship with your lender, only request assistance if necessary. Requesting forbearance without hardship is generally frowned upon and could result in your lender being less receptive to future business.
Keep reliable records of on-time payments, tenant delinquencies, and losses that you suffer as a result of the crisis. Lenders value reliable partners, and demonstrating that you made payments on time despite the impacts of COVID-19 may help you negotiate better loan terms with current and future lenders.
Relief for Landlords
As most readers are aware, there is very little in the way of assistance currently available to landlords. Simultaneously, local and state authorities have curtailed landlords’ ability to enforce rental collections.
Organizations like RHA, NAIOP, and WMFHA are actively advocating for landlords at the state and local levels. There are legal efforts underway as well, but these will take time and it’s unclear whether meaningful benefits will accrue to landlords in Washington through the courts.
On the national level, House Democrats this week introduced “CARES 2.0,” a $3 trillion aid bill that both includes a national moratorium on evictions and rental assistance for tenants. This assistance is separate from and in addition to the $1,200 stimulus payments. A good summary of the new bill can be found here.
At this time, we recommend that landlords keep excellent records of tenant delinquencies in case they are required to receive benefits from government aid or legal settlements in the future.