Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

D.C. Council Expands Emergency Response to Protect Homeowners from Foreclosure

Yesterday, the D.C. Council took a major step forward in expanding its emergency response to the most critical needs of D.C. residents by unanimously voting to enact the Foreclosure Moratorium Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. The Act provides clear, automatic protection to homeowners in danger of foreclosure due to inability to pay their mortgage or condo fees by explicitly prohibiting foreclosure sales – as well as the initiation of new foreclosures – during the period of the District’s public health emergency, and for 60 days thereafter. The prohibitions apply to in-court and out-of-court foreclosures, both of which are permissible under District law.

As we have previously highlighted, the District has until now lagged behind many other states that have already taken specific measures to halt foreclosures as part of their emergency response. We now join those states in pressing pause on the trauma, displacement, and wealth loss that would otherwise flow from allowing foreclosures to proceed while the District is in crisis.

As to condominium foreclosures, the Council unanimously approved an amendment that carves out developer and investor-owned units from the moratorium’s coverage. This amendment strikes a reasonable balance of the interests of condominium associations, which rely on the ability to collect assessments to provide important services common to all owners, and the interests of the District’s most vulnerable owner-occupants – homeowners like Legal Aid client Ms. L – whose health, safety, and stability depend on having the protection of a time-limited moratorium.

We thank Councilmember Nadeau for her leadership and Councilmembers Bonds, Trayon White, Robert White, and Silverman for co-introducing this important legislation that is a big step toward building a more equitable DC. And we thank the full Council for its unanimous vote to protect District homeowners today, together with everything else it has worked so hard to enact as part of its continuing emergency response.

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