When Hurricane Matthew affected homeowners, the Department of Veterans Affairs reminded VA borrowers that mortgage relief may be available. Loan forbearance, late charge waivers, foreclosure forbearance, and other remedies are commonly offered to VA borrowers affected by a natural disaster.
Some assistance is only available for borrowers in a federally-declared disaster area, while other types of assistance may be offered regardless of “disaster area status”. While lenders ultimately have a great deal of the responsibility for offering forbearance, late charge waivers and other help, the Department of Veterans Affairs strongly encourages lenders to work with their VA borrowers.
Consider this statement from the VA official site (www.VA.gov):
“You are responsible for making regular monthly loan payments, even if your home is not habitable, so contact your lender as soon as possible regarding your loss. If you are unable to make payments on time, we encourage you to discuss forbearance or a loan modification. Also have your lender explain procedures for insurance loss checks, repairs to your property, payments to contractors, etc.”
As you can see from the above, the borrower must work closely with the lender in times of a natural disaster to make arrangements; borrowers should never assume they don’t have to make monthly mortgage payments because of the disaster. But that does not mean you won’t have your circumstances taken into account, but you do have to work with the lender.
One very important aspect of VA loan assistance in times of a disaster? Knowing that you are entitled to that assistance. Did you know that the different kinds of VA loan help you may be entitled to can also apply not just to homeowners with storm, flood, or fire damage, but also to National Guard members who are mobilized to offer relief in these cases?
The VA official site states, “Members of the National Guard may be called to active duty to assist in recovery efforts. VA encourages servicers to extend special forbearance to National Guard members who experience financial difficulties as a result of their service.”
This also requires contacting your lender to make arrangements, but it’s clear that help should be available to military first responders and to those in uniform charged with helping in the recovery effort as part of their official duties.