February 15, 2013

How the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Can Help Veterans Avoid Foreclosure in Florida

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act may help veterans avoid foreclosure. It applies during active military service and can protect your South Florida home. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) can provide protection in a number of ways for those who are:

• entering the military;
• called to active duty; or
• deployed.

This protection applies to certain civil obligations, which may be delayed or stopped, depending on the circumstances. The point of this Federal Act is to relieve service members of the worries and stress that accompany many of these civil obligations. One of them applies to homes that are in danger of being foreclosed.

Mortgage obligations that existed prior to enlistment or active duty are protected under SCRA, those in the:

• Air Force;
• Coast Guard;
• Army;
• Marines; and
• Navy.

Mortgage Relief through a Reduced Interest Rate

You may be able to find mortgage relief through a reduction in your interest rate. Your interest rate must be lowered to at least 6% per year during your time of active military service.

Payments will be readjusted according to the new lower interest rate. It can be done with government-insured and conventional mortgages. It’s important to understand that this reduction of the interest rate won’t happen automatically. It is up to you to send in a written request to your lender. You should also send a copy of your military orders.

You should send this request as soon as possible, preferably once you have been given orders. It cannot be sent any later than 180 days after your release date from the military service.

The foreclosure process can be a complex one. You should not only know how much time you have to request a lowered interest rate but you should also be prepared for the possibility of it being denied.

This doesn’t happen often but if your mortgage lender doesn’t find that your service in the military has impacted your ability to pay the current mortgage, they may try to fight it.

In some cases, you may need to turn to a Florida foreclosure lawyer for help.

When a Reduced Interest Rate Isn’t Enough to Provide Mortgage Relief

There is the possibility that even with a lowered rate, you still can’t make your mortgage payments and are at risk of foreclosure. While your lender is under no obligation to do so, they may try and work with you.

It could even lead to your principal payment being temporarily suspended, also known as a forbearance. However, you would be expected to eventually pay it, once you have completed active duty service.

There may also be other programs available that can help provide mortgage relief. Your lender should be able to discuss these options with you.

Protection from Foreclosure

The good news is that service members don’t have to worry about their home being foreclosed on as long as they are on active duty for 9 months, prior to Dec. 31, 2012. The only way around this is through court approval.

The grace period reverts back 3 months after Dec. 31, 2012. If there is a court proceeding, your mortgage lender would have to demonstrate that your ability to pay was not impacted by your service in the military.

Contacting a Florida Foreclosure Lawyer

As a veteran, your time in the service may have helped prevent your home from being foreclosed. However, there is the possibility that your lender could try to deny your protection.

The team of foreclosure lawyers at The Neustein Law Group, P.A., serves residents of the Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and throughout the State of Florida when they have been struggling financially and are looking to save their homes. To learn more about your rights and how you can protect your home, contact us today – 561-235-0700 (Boca Raton Office), 561-232-3788 (West Palm Beach Office), 305-531-2545 (Miami Beach Headquarters) or 888-400-ATTY (2889) (Toll Free).