March 31, 2003
HUD SENDS GUIDANCE TO LENDERS ON MORTGAGE RELIEF FOR SOLDIERS AND SAILORS DEPLOYED TO MIDDLE EAST
Federal Law Protects
Dependents from Financial Hardships such as Loss of Home
WASHINGTON – As tens of thousands of American families face the uncertainty of having a breadwinner activated for military duty, HUD issued guidance this week to all FHA-approved lenders to remind them of the key components of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1940.
That law mandates that military personnel on active duty in wartime are entitled to mortgage relief, including a lower interest rate (six percent) on their mortgages. The guidance, in the form of a mortgagee letter, stresses to the lenders the importance of complying with the Act. The letter also reminds them that all available loss mitigation options must be considered when determining how best to assist affected homeowners, including in some cases the postponement of principal payments.
stands behind the men and women who are called upon to serve," said HUD Secretary
Mel Martinez. "The Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act enables our military
forces to focus on combating evil, not worrying about their families at home."
The 1940 Act applies to reservists and members of the National Guard who are called to active duty. To better explain the protections offered by the Act, HUD said today that it is working with the Department of Defense to provide fact sheets, in both English and Spanish, to American servicemen and women. Some of the Act’s protections include:
- Mortgage Relief. Under certain conditions, active duty military or their dependents may receive temporary relief from paying a mortgage.
- Termination of Leases. Members of the military just entering active duty may be able to terminate a lease without repercussions, if certain conditions are met.
- Protection from Eviction. An active-duty member of the military who leases a house or apartment can prevent an eviction for a period of time, usually three months, if the rent does not exceed $1,200 a month and the active duty status impact his or her ability to pay rent.
- Six Percent Cap on Interest Rates. Under the SSCRA, a military member can cap the interest rate at six percent for all obligations, including mortgages, entered into before beginning active duty.
- Stay of Proceedings. If an active duty member of the military is sued, he or she can have the proceedings postponed.
Reopening Default Judgments. If a default judgment is issued against an active
military member, he or she can reopen the judgment once certain conditions are
In addition, HUD operates HUDVET, a resource center for servicemen and women who have questions about the protections provided by the SSCRA. The toll-free number for HUDVET is 800-998-9999 during the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation’s fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet.