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What is mortgage forbearance?

Forbearance is a process that can help if you’re struggling to pay your mortgage. Your servicer or lender arranges for you to temporarily pause mortgage payments or make smaller payments. You still owe the full amount, and you pay back the difference later.

Forbearance can help you deal with a financial hardship. For example, forbearance can be helpful if your home was damaged in a natural disaster, you had unexpected medical costs, or you lost your job. Forbearance does not erase or decrease the amount you owe on your mortgage. You have to repay any missed or reduced payments.

How to request mortgage forbearance

Call your mortgage servicer and let them know your situation immediately. Ask them what forbearance or hardship options may be available.

Some mortgage servicers have a requirement that forbearance or hardship assistance must be requested within a specified amount of time after a disaster or other qualifying event.

Mortgage forbearance options

Forbearance is complicated. There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer, because the options depend on many factors. Explain your situation to your mortgage servicer, and ask them for the options available to you. Keep asking questions until you understand:

  • The amount you must pay, and for how long payments are paused or reduced
  • How interest accrues during that time
  • When and how you pay back the paused or reduced amounts

Paused payments, repaid after forbearance ends

Your servicer lets you stop making payments for a specified number of months. Then, you pay the whole amount back at once when your payments restart.

What to consider:

  • You owe a big bill that comes due at one time
  • Interest on the paused amounts could continue to add up until you repay them

Paused payments, paid back at the end of the mortgage

Your servicer lets you pause payments for a specified number of months. Then, the amount is repaid either by adding more payments at the end of your mortgage loan, or by taking out a new loan.

What to consider:

  • Adding the missed payments at the end of your loan means your mortgage could extend longer than the original term
  • Repaying the missed payments with a new loan means that at the end of your mortgage term, you have to pay back the new loan all at once
  • Interest on the missed amounts could continue to add up until you repay them

Payment reduction, repaid during the mortgage term

Your servicer lets you reduce your monthly mortgage payment for a specified number of months. When the time is up, you spread out your repayments and pay them back by increasing your monthly payment.

What to consider:

  • The amount of the reduction is spread out over a specified number of months and added to your mortgage payment for those months, so your monthly payment increases during that period
  • Interest on any reduced amounts could continue to add up until you repay them

Where to find help with mortgage forbearance

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-certified housing counselors can discuss options with you if you're having trouble paying your mortgage or managing your reverse mortgage. Find a housing counselor

If you have a reverse mortgage, you can contact a reverse mortgage housing counseling agency or default counseling agency approved by HUD.

If you’re facing foreclosure or have been served with legal papers, there could be resources to assist you through your local bar association or legal aid. If you are a servicemember, contact your local Legal Assistance Office .