During the forbearance period, lenders cannot foreclose on your property. Most lenders are not requiring proof of hardship from borrowers applying for forbearance. Usually, verbal or written verification of hardship is all that is needed.

QUESTION: A couple of weeks ago you wrote about mortgage forbearance, but said it was only open to people who had government-backed loans. What if you don’t have one of those mortgages? Can I still get a forbearance?

ANSWER: The answer is you need to talk to your lender.

As part of the $2 trillion CARES Act that Congress passed in March, homeowners facing financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus were granted the right to ask their lender for up to 180 days of forbearance on paying their mortgage. Interest would still accrue during this forbearance period, but fees and penalties were waived.

During the forbearance period, lenders cannot foreclose on your property. Most lenders are not requiring proof of hardship from borrowers applying for forbearance. Usually, verbal or written verification of hardship is all that is needed.

Once the forbearance period ends, the missed payments must be paid back, but there are re-payment options available to borrowers.

As you mentioned, under the CARES Act, forbearance could be offered for mortgages owned or backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Agriculture (USDA) direct and guaranteed loans, and the Department of Veteran Affairs VA). About three out of every four mortgages is one of these, and covered by the CARES Act.

If your mortgage is privately owned and not covered by the CARES Act and you are having financial trouble, you should still talk to your lender. Although the congressional act mandates forbearance only for the above loans, many, if not most, lenders are also offering forbearance and loan modification options to borrowers with privately owned mortgages. The key is to talk to your lender.

Do not just stop paying your mortgage. That is the worst thing you can do. Mortgage forbearance will not hurt your credit or appear on your credit report as a negative activity. Simply not paying your mortgage will.

Bottom line: Regardless of who owns your loan, be sure to talk to your lender if you are having trouble paying your mortgage.

Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: lrgoodspeed@comcast.net.