Rent and mortgage relief program proposed
Sen. Clynt Ridgell has proposed a program that would waive rent for Guam tenants and suspend mortgage payments for landlords and homeowners to provide them relief amid their struggles to meet their obligations due to the economic impact of the Covid-19 shutdown.
“People have lost jobs. They have to choose now between putting food on their tables or paying rent. This bill says they will no longer have to choose between starvation and homelessness,” Ridgell said in introducing Bill 355-35.
The bill, the senator said, ensures that renters in this program are not penalized for nonpayment during this period and that landlords must provide relief to their renters to receive relief on their mortgages. This allows renters and landlords access to the program and prevents both parties from being at odds with the other’s financial well-being. Homeowners, renters, and landlords all are able to avail this program so that if they have lost income, they can receive relief for their payment obligations.
Just as banks and other financial institutions reduce payments for mortgage holders under this program, landlords must also provide reduced payments for their renters depending on the renter’s income loss, according to a press release from Ridgell's office.
Although evictions have been prohibited, once the shutdown is lifted evictions may resume and many renters will have already accrued months of back rent, a situation that could lead to massive evictions once the public health emergency is over. Bill 355 would cancel rent for those who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.
“Landlords are also struggling to pay their mortgages because many of their tenants can’t afford to pay their rent. This bill puts a pause on those mortgage payments during this pandemic. No penalties, no late fees, no bad credit, and no foreclosures,” Ridgell said.
Although foreclosures have also been prohibited during the pandemic, once the public health emergency is lifted, foreclosures may resume. Bill 355 prevents this by extending the length of their loan so that they don’t have a huge bill to pay once the public health emergency ends. This will not only help landlords but also the average homeowner who may be struggling to pay the mortgage on their home.
“Essentially what we’re saying with this bill is it’s like the months of the shutdown didn’t happen. It’s a pause on mortgage payments," the senator said. "Then when the public health emergency is over you can resume normal monthly payments at the same monthly amount you were paying prior to the pandemic. It’s as if you decided to stop paying your loan for a few months but when you resume paying there are no late fees no penalties no payment plans to make up for the months that were missed and no affect to your credit score.”
Bill 355 allows renters, landlords, and homeowners to apply for either complete or partial relief from mortgage or rental payments, depending on how this crisis has impacted their income. This relief comes with no penalties or fees and would last either until the public health emergency ends or until their income level returns to the levels before the crisis.
This bill is co-sponsored by Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes, Senators Jose “Pedo” Terlaje, Therese M. Terlaje, Sabina F. Perez, and Kelly Marsh (Taitano).