With the significant and ongoing financial effects from the Covid-19 pandemic taking their toll on individuals and businesses, state and federal courts, lenders, servicers, and agencies have taken steps that directly affect foreclosures, evictions, and bankruptcies in Maine. Below is a brief overview of those changes and how they may impact you or your organization.
This situation is highly fluid, and will be updated with any new information as quickly as possible. For more information, please contact Eaton Peabody’s Bankruptcy & Creditor’s Rights Practice Group Chair Shawn Doil at email@example.com.
CARES Act Amendments: On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which contains substantive provisions effecting federally-backed mortgages, federal housing, and bankruptcy. Relevant provisions have been incorporated below.
Maine State Courts, Sheriff Departments, and Registries:
- Any person entering a state courthouse must wear a face covering or mask at all times, and social distancing measures must be observed.
- The March 17, 2020 General Order extending most deadlines established by rule or court order in pending civil cases by 49 days expired on May 31. Any deadlines that occur on or after June 1 are not extended by that Order. Deadlines triggered from an extended deadline or event commences on the date of the extended deadline or event.
- Pursuant to the Judicial Branch’s Phased Management Plan, issued May 27, 2020, the following cases will not be scheduled or heard until at least August 3 (Phase 4): Forcible Entry and Detainer (i.e. eviction, landlord/tenant), except that certain writs of possession requested prior to March 18, 2020 may issue, Disclosure, Foreclosure, and Small Claims.
- All Law Court oral arguments will be conducted by video conferencing or will be addressed without oral arguments.
- All jury trials are postponed to a date after June 30, 2020.
- Civil service has been suspended or limited in all counties except: Washington, Kennebec, Cumberland, Androscoggin, York, and Franklin (as of March 27, 2020). Those counties may also experience delays in service. Status of civil service in Aroostook County is unknown.
- All Registries of Deeds are accepting documents for physical recording via drop-off only, and are accepting mail. All counties are accepting electronic recoding except Somerset.
The Emergency Orders and Phased Management Plan can be viewed here.
Foreclosures & Evictions in Maine
- Effective April 16 until 30 days after termination of the state of emergency:
- No Writ of Possession based on (1) nonpayment of rent for no more than 2 months; (2) under § 6002’s 30-day notice; or (3) for expiration of lease, shall issue or be served except after review by a judge.
- 30-day notice under 14 M.R.S. § 6002 extended to 60 days for evictions based solely on nonpayment due to Covid-19.
- 7-day notice under § 6002(1)(C) extended to 30 days for evictions based solely on nonpayment due to Covid-19.
- These limitations do NOT apply to evictions based on dangerous, unlawful, or destructive conduct.
- A Landlord who illegally evicts a tenant is subject to arrest.
The Governor’s Executive Order can be viewed here.
CARES Act provisions related to Foreclosures & Evictions (enacted March 27, 2020):
- Borrowers with federally-backed residential (1-4 families) mortgages may request up to 360 day forbearance if experiencing hardship due to Covid-19.
- Borrowers with federally backed multifamily (5 or more families) mortgages may request up to a 90-day forbearance on payments if experiencing hardship due to Covid-19.
- For 60 days from March 18, 2020, there is a moratorium on initiating any judicial or non-judicial foreclosure, moving for judgment or order of sale, or executing a foreclosure-related eviction or sale on all federally backed residential mortgages (preempts prior Fannie/Freddie moratorium and includes VA and USDA/RD).
- For 120 days from enactment of the CARES Act, landlords of any mortgaged property backed by HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the rural housing voucher program, or the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 are prohibited from initiating any eviction action or charging late fees, penalties, or other charges to tenants as a result of non-payment of rent. Please contact us directly if you have questions about whether this 120 day moratorium applies to your situation.
Full CARES Act can be seen here.
Federal District Courts:
- Anyone entering a federal district courthouse must use a face covering or mask. This does not apply to anyone under 2, having breathing or related medical conditions, or unable to remove the mask without assistance. Courts will provide masks to those who do not have them. This requirement does not apply to courtroom proceedings.
- In Federal District Court foreclosures where default has been entered, the Court will be using new Form Orders before issuing default judgments that require plaintiffs to file a motion with all affidavits and documentary evidence necessary to establish entitlement to default judgment, to waive claims for any deficiency judgment, and to obtain consent from all parties-in-interest who have not been defaulted. A copy of the Form Order can be found on the District Court website using the below link.
- 30 days have been added to all deadlines between March 19 and May 1, 2020. This likely includes deadlines that come into existence after March 19.
- Existing in-court hearings are continued generally until at least May 1, 2020.
- All jury trials are continued generally through at least April 20, 2020.
- Telephonic hearings and conferences will proceed normally.
- The Federal Courthouses remain open for filing, clerks available via phone or in person via appointment only.
General Orders and information can be found here.
- Trial, evidentiary hearings continued generally through June 30, 2020. Other hearings will take place as scheduled telephonically. Depending upon the specific circumstances, judges may hold bench trials and evidentiary hearings in person or electronically.
- All notices must specifically state that the hearing will be TELEPHONIC only.
- All 341 Meetings in chapter 7, 12 and 13 scheduled through April 10, 2020, are continued to a date to be determined unless scheduled as telephonic.
- Clerks offices are closed to public for filing; clerks available via email or telephone.
- The Bankruptcy courts will remain open for filing; hearings may be conducted in person when necessary to avoid immediate and irreparable harm.
General Orders can be found here.
CARES Act Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code (enacted March 27, 2020):
- Title 11, Chapter 11: Subchapter V eligibility increased from $2,725,625 to $7.5 million (effective for 1 year from enactment of CARES Act).
- Title 11, Chapter 13: Debtors can modify confirmed plans to last 7 years (up from current maximum of 5 years) if they have had material financial hardship related to Covid-19 (effective for 1 year from enactment of CARES Act).
- Title 11, Chapter 1: All amounts received pursuant to the CARES Act will be excluded from the current monthly income calculation (the Means Test) and the disposable income calculation for purposes of confirming a plan. Applicable for all cases file before, on, or after the effective date of the CARES Act (effective for 1 year from enactment of CARES Act).
These materials have been prepared for general informational purposes only and are not intended as legal advice.