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Storm-affected New York homeowners face repayment pressure: governor

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo talks about the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act in Albany, New York January 15, 2013.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo talks about the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act in Albany, New York January 15, 2013.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York state has asked banks to offer homeowners who were allowed to skip mortgage payments in the wake of Superstorm Sandy a relaxed repayment schedule, instead of immediate lump-sum repayments, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.

The Department of Financial Services is reviewing whether banks have delivered on a promise not to start foreclosure proceedings due to late payments in cases where homeowners were heavily affected by the late October storm, Cuomo said.

"Many New Yorkers were hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and couldn't pay their bills due to lost income, home repair expenses, or relocation costs, so banks offered relief to homeowners in the form of forbearance on mortgage payments," Cuomo said in a written statement.

"A homeowner who could come up with three months in mortgage payments all at once probably didn't need forbearance in the first place," he said. "Everyone else needs more time to repay."

Sandy crashed ashore with a record sea surge on October 29, damaging or destroying hundreds of thousands of homes and commercial buildings, mostly in low-lying coastal areas of New York and New Jersey.

Late last year, the state Department of Financial Services obtained assurances that major banks and servicers would offer homeowners who were hard-hit by the storm and struggling to make mortgage payments a three- to six-month window to pay.

With the three-month forbearance period expiring, the department is receiving reports that some homeowners have been asked to make complete lump-sum payments and, in some cases, received pre-foreclosure notices based on having missed payments in the months since the storm.

(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Lisa Shumaker)

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