On June 1, 2021, Governor Kate Brown signed into law Oregon’s most recent COVID-19 pandemic-related foreclosure moratorium, HB 2009. Although similar to last year’s statewide moratorium that expired at the end of last year, Oregon’s most recent moratorium is limited to only residential properties, staying foreclosures and retroactively voiding all such non-judicial foreclosure sales and sheriff’s execution sales that were conducted this year.
In addition to the ban on foreclosures, HB 2009 also provides several other notable protections for borrowers during the emergency period, which began at the beginning of this year. First, if a borrower notifies the lender that the borrower cannot make a payment because of lost income from the COVID-19 pandemic, the lender cannot treat the borrower’s non-payment of any amount due to the lender during the period as a default. After such notification and, unless otherwise agreed by lender and borrower, the lender must defer collecting payment and must permit the borrower to pay the amount deferred during the emergency period to the loan’s maturity date. Further, once the borrower gives that notice to the lender, a lender may not:
(A) Impose charges, fees, penalties, attorney fees or other amounts that the lender might have otherwise imposed or collected from a borrower for failing to make payment;
(B) Impose a default rate of interest that the lender might have imposed or collected from a borrower for failing to pay an amount otherwise due during the emergency period;
(C) Treat the borrower’s failure pay any amount due during the period as an ineligibility for a foreclosure avoidance measure; or
(D) Require or charge for an inspection, appraisal or broker opinion of value during the emergency period.
The new law also creates a private right of action for borrowers to recover damages for an ascertainable loss of money or property due to the prohibited actions of a lender or trustee and allows the borrower to recover attorney’s fees and costs as well. A lender is not liable for damages for acts taken before the lender receives the lost income notice from the borrower.
The protections of HB 2009 were initially set to expire on June 30, 2021, however, the law authorized the Governor to extend the mortgage foreclosure moratorium period for two successive three-month periods by executive order. On June 11, 2021, Governor Brown announced that she had extended the moratorium for that first three-month period, until September 30, 2021, and, if the Governor intends to extend the moratorium again, the Governor must do so by August 16, 2021.
By David Venables