COVID19

Real Estate Specific Updates: Federal, State and Municipal Resources

Real Estate Industry Updates:

Last updated: 8/28/20

FEDERAL UPDATES
Foreclosures & Evictions
  • To help borrowers at risk of losing their home due to the coronavirus national emergency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) will extend the moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions until at least December 31, 2020.  The foreclosure moratorium applies to Enterprise-backed, single-family mortgages only. The REO eviction moratorium applies to properties that have been acquired by an Enterprise through foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure transactions. The current moratoriums were set to expire on August 31, 2020.
Flood Insurance

August 28, 2020 — National Flood Insurance Program Expires September 30, 2020

See A Real Estate Professional’s Guide to Discussing Flood Insurance

Fair Housing
STATE UPDATES

Phase 3 guidance for residential Realtors remains  in effect with one change: Social gatherings restricted to 15 from 25.

Rentals:
  • Please note: As of August 6, 2020, the Rhode Island District Court requires a Safe Harbor Housing Program flyer to be included with a Five-Day Demand Notice for Non-Payment of Rent.   The Safe Harbor Housing program provides rental assistance to landlords who are renting to low to moderate-income tenants who are at risk of eviction because they cannot pay their rent due to a COVID-19 related financial hardship. See more information here.
  • In Phase 3, those coming to RI from a state with a 5% or higher COVID-19 rate, must quarantine. Realtors are asked to inform their clients. State rates can be found here.
  • 7/17 Update: See the latest real estate/tenant transaction guidelines on the RI Dept. of Business Regulation’s website. Also, see what you are being asked to do regarding out-of-state visitors and clients and access the Certificate of Compliance of Out-of-State Travel requirements here.

Tenant and Landlord assistance:

Safe Harbor Housing Program for Eviction Diversion
    • The Safe Harbor eviction diversion initiative is designed to help landlords and tenants resolve nonpayment disputes outside of the traditional, court-based eviction process. Seven million dollars of CARES Act funding has been set aside to help those who meet income criteria and are behind on rent due to COVID-19. Interested tenants or landlords can call 211 and ask to speak with someone about the Safe Harbor Housing Program. See details here.

5/28/2020 Update: Rhode Island is making $5 million in emergency rental assistance available to low-income renters who have been impacted by the COVID-19 emergency and are at immediate risk of homelessness. Those who qualify can receive a grant of up to $5,000 to support past due rent payments and other fees. Requirement information and details are available at HousingHelpRI.com or by calling 211.

Guidance for cleaning of summer rentals.

Mortgage Assistance:
  • Beginning July 1st, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will have a new payment deferral option to offer homeowners to repay their forborne payments.
  • Rhode Island’s financial institutions have stepped up with a pledge to help homeowners facing economic hardship. The relief includes a 90-Day grace period for all residential mortgage payments for individuals impacted by COVID-19. Banks will also not report late payments to credit rating companies, so late payments will not negatively impact credit scores. Find more information on the Department of Business Regulation’s website.
Home Inspections:

Enforcement of home inspector licensing moved from May 1 to July 1.

Remote Notarizations:

Secretary Gorbea Announces Remote Online Notarization to Enable Business to Continue During COVID-19 Emergency

DBR/State Exams/RI REALTORS® Classes:
  • Please visit the RI REALTORS® Professional Development Center’s Class Schedule to determine if a class has been cancelled, postponed or will be delivered via live broadcast. Registration for classes delivered via live broadcast closes at 4pm the day before.
  • Updated: 5/13/20: Pearson Vue reopens limited number of testing centers for real estate and appraiser testing with safety protocols in place – learn more.
Smoke/CO Inspections:

7/9 Mass. Update: Mass. News: On Friday, July 10th, Governor Baker will be rescinding the Emergency Order that allows parties in Mass. to defer the smoke and carbon monoxide inspection until after closing. Buyers that agreed to defer inspections now need to reach out to the local fire department to schedule the required inspection by Thursday, October 8, 2020. Read the official notice here.

RI has issued the bulletins below to address concerns about smoke/CO detector and other fire safety inspections. It’s critical to note that none of the below is mandatory. Local fire marshals can refuse to conduct inspections or accept any of these, according to Julietta Georgakis, Deputy Director of DBR. Normally, the State Fire Marshal can intervene if a local fire marshal will not issue a certificate, but they are backlogged due to statewide public safety procedures. Homeowners should contact their local elected officials and fire district leadership to allow for these alternatives.

  • FILE NO: 20-01 – The Fire Safety Code Board of Appeal and Review issued this bulletin which waives deadlines for inspections, such as periodic inspections of fire safety systems in restaurants and other uses.
  • FILE NO. DDE2020-BV-1 – The Fire Safety Code Board of Appeal and Review issued this bulletin which offers alternatives for local fire marshals to conduct smoke/carbon monoxide detector systems for single-family homes, and two- and three-family dwellings.

Inspections can be handled in three ways (if authorized by the local fire marshal):  

  • Conducted In-person using social distancing and other health and safety protocol.
  • By submitting a video of the smoke/CO detector system to the fire marshal. (The RI Association of REALTORS® recommends having the occupant do this in a dwelling that is occupied.)
  • Closing without a smoke/CO detector certificate. The seller would need to provide documentation that he or she has created an escrow account in the amount of $150 payable to the buyer. The inspection would be conducted within 60 days after the Termination of the Declaration of Disaster Emergency. If the system fails inspection once it is conducted, the $150 must be released to the buyer.
MUNICIPAL UPDATES

(Includes information on recordings, smoke inspections, etc.)

 

NAR UPDATES

The National Association of REALTORS® is providing guidance to help REALTORS® respond to COVID-19 and its impact on the real estate industry and real estate transactions. Any updates from NAR and its response to the coronavirus emergency can be found on nar.realtor/coronavirus.

 

Don’t see what you are looking for on this page? More helpful resources:

This page and the links below will be continually updated as information becomes available.

Thank you for your patience during this challenging time. Please check this website often for updates. If you have further questions after reviewing this information, please email covid19@rirealtors.org.

For legal questions, please contact Monica Staaf – General Counsel at 401-432-6945 or monica@rirealtors.org.

Looking for legislative or municipal updates? Email your questions to governmentaffairs@rirealtors.org.

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