Cohn, Goldberg & Deutsch COVID-19 Update (Maryland)

Since our last blast of March 13, 2020, there have been several local court orders, and directives from federal regulators, concerning various COVID-19 related moratoria.

Since our last blast of March 13, 2020, there have been several local court orders, and directives from federal regulators, concerning various COVID-19 related moratoria.
Specifically, the Court of Appeals of Maryland has issued an order dated March 18, 2020, which directs the stay of "foreclosures of ... residential properties pending in the circuit courts.  The court further stayed "residential eviction orders," which will, of course, affect post-foreclosure evictions. The court did not further define specifically what actions within a foreclosure are stayed, however, it did state that "New foreclosure of residential property, ... , and residential evictions shall be stayed upon filing," the necessary implication being that the filing of either foreclosure actions and eviction actions are not themselves stayed. Our interpretation of the order is that it should be treated in much the same manner as a bankruptcy stay, meaning that any action, with the exception of the filing of the action itself, which would otherwise be in furtherance of a sale (and of course any sale itself), would be stayed. This would include, e.g. service of process, the filing of any affidavits, etc., with the court.  Firms in Maryland may differ as to the exact meaning of the order, but we have decided that best practices dictates a conservative approach in applying the public policy behind the order. It should be noted that this order has an indefinite termination date, and merely states "This Administrative Order will be revised as circumstances warrant."
As any of you who service HUD insured loans by now know, HUD has issued a more restrictive directive, which would prohibit even the filing of any foreclosure or eviction action, and we will, of course abide by that directive. You also may know that the VA has issued a circular strongly encouraging, but not at this time mandating, the suspension of action in the same manner as HUD. At this time we are following our clients' respective directives as to any VA insured loans.
To the extent that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued directives suspending sales of properties which are not otherwise vacant or abandoned, for a period of 60 days, please note that the Maryland order is more restrictive in this regard, and applies to all residential properties notwithstanding occupancy status, and for an indefinite period.
We encourage our clients who have questions as to the status of the Maryland courts to check the following link on a regular basis:
This link to the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) webpage is continuously updated and contains current information on the status of the Maryland Courts, both state and federal.
The latest update, dated today, indicates as follows:
Home foreclosures pending in the courts have been stayed by order of the Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. That means if you have a foreclosure case it will not be heard until the court orders otherwise. Individuals can file court documents and start new cases but it is not clear when those cases will be heard.
Auctions are only part of the foreclosure process. Auction sales must be ratified by the court. Through the Administrative Order on foreclosures issued March 18, 2020, ratifications have been stayed by the court. Any individual that has questions regarding foreclosures should consult with their attorney or they may contact the Maryland Self Help Center (by phone) at 410-260-1392. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, phones will operate until 4:30 p.m. Online chat will operate until 8:00 p.m.
Thank you for cooperation and understanding during this difficult time, and we thank you for your continued confidence in our firm.
If you have any questions about anything in this update, please contact Richard Solomon at (410) 296-2550 x3011 or