SBA Loan Debt Relief Attorneys[yoast-breadcrumb]
SBA Loan Debt Relief Attorneys
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many small business owners to take on debt through SBA lending programs. Now repayment pressures are mounting, even as recovery remains unstable. If your business is struggling with SBA loan debt, expert legal help may provide solutions. Here we discuss loan forgiveness options, bankruptcy filings, debt settlement strategies, and key steps for getting relief.
SBA Loan Programs and Relief Measures
The Small Business Administration expanded lending dramatically during COVID-19 through programs like:
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loans)
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
- SBA Express Bridge Loans
- SBA Debt Relief payments
Loan forgiveness was offered for some PPP loans meeting employee retention criteria. However, complex rules made qualifications difficult, leaving many businesses with debt.
Seeking Loan Forgiveness
If you have not filed for forgiveness of eligible PPP or other SBA loans, consult with attorneys right away. They can review your records to confirm you met employment and spending requirements. If you qualified, they will handle the forgiveness application process to discharge your debt.
Even if already denied, attorneys may find bases to appeal or litigate against improper rejections of valid forgiveness claims. Do not assume unpayable SBA debts cannot be discharged.
Negotiating SBA Loan Modifications
When loan forgiveness is unavailable, attorneys try negotiating alternate relief with the SBA and lenders. Options may include:
- Interest rate reductions
- Extended repayment terms
- Temporary payment deferrals
- Reduced monthly payment amounts
Skilled business lawyers know how to leverage financial data to secure modified SBA loan terms that reduce pressures.
Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
For businesses in truly dire straits, bankruptcy may be the last resort. Chapter 7 liquidation discharges personal debts, while Chapter 11 reorganization allows restructuring debt and continuing operations.
An experienced bankruptcy attorney can advise if your business qualifies to use these options for eliminating or modifying overwhelming SBA loans.
Settling SBA Loan Debt
If loan modifications, forgiveness, and bankruptcy are unavailable, settling SBA debts for less than owed may be feasible. Counsel can negotiate deals such as:
- Paying lump sums equaling a percentage of balances
- Structured settlements with payments over time
- Offering alternate collateral the SBA accepts
The SBA has discretion to settle, and skilled negotiators maximize relief. Even 20-30% savings on balances can help.
Securing Temporary Relief
If permanent debt solutions require time, attorneys first seek temporary protections, like:
- Administrative forbearances to halt collections
- Hardship deferments and disaster declarations
- Payment plan arrangements lasting ~6 months
This delays severe actions while negotiating and optimizes cashflow in the interim.
Key Steps for Getting SBA Debt Relief
To summarize key guidance on reducing unmanageable SBA loan burdens:
- Consult experienced attorneys immediately.
- Explore forgiveness eligibility for PPP and other loans.
- Consider bankruptcy viability as a last resort option.
- Negotiate loan modifications, settlement offers, and alternate collateral.
- Secure interim deferments and forbearances if needed.
Taking the right legal steps can unlock viable debt relief options and improve your business’ outlook.
The pandemic necessitated tough decisions, but SBA debt does not have to sink struggling small businesses. Experienced legal counsel can provide the help needed to restructure, reduce, or release unsustainable loan burdens. Don’t wait to get professional assistance pursuing every avenue for relief.
Common SBA Loan Programs
The SBA guarantees loans issued by approved lenders to qualifying small businesses. Popular SBA loans include:
- 7(a) Loans – For general business purposes including working capital, equipment, and real estate.
- 504 Loans – For major fixed assets like real estate or heavy equipment.
- Microloans – Small short-term loans up to $50,000.
- Disaster Loans – For recovery from declared disasters.
Specific use, size, term, and collateral requirements apply depending on loan type. Interest rates, fees, and other terms are set by lenders but must comply with SBA parameters.
SBA Loan Challenges During COVID-19
Many businesses face financial hardship due to COVID-19 restrictions and economic impacts. This makes it difficult to keep up with SBA loan payments. Borrowers may also struggle with lender inflexibility on modifying repayment terms for SBA-guaranteed loans.
Debt Relief Options for SBA Loans
If you are experiencing hardship repaying an SBA loan, potential debt relief options may include:
- Loan deferment – Temporarily postponing payments.
- Loan forbearance – Temporarily reducing or suspending payments.
- Reamortization – Recalculating payments over a longer term.
- Rate/term modification – Changing the interest rate or loan duration.
- Settlements – Lump-sum payoff for less than the full balance.
- Debt forgiveness – Canceling a portion of loan principal and interest.
Eligibility and terms for relief depend on specific lender policies, loan status, and SBA requirements.
CARES Act Provisions for SBA Debt Relief
The 2020 CARES Act provided temporary SBA debt relief including:
- Automatic payment deferrals on 7(a), 504 and microloans.
- Financial obligation subsidies for new 7(a) and 504 borrowers.
- Expanded 7(a) loan forgiveness if employees retained.
While most CARES Act SBA provisions have expired, some lenders may still offer COVID-19 relief. An attorney can help you pursue options.
Why Hire an SBA Loan Attorney?
Engaging an attorney experienced with SBA lending can provide these key benefits:
- Analyze specific loan documents to identify relief options.
- Negotiate payment deferrals, forbearance, or other modifications.
- Advocate for principal reduction and forgiveness where eligible.
- Restructure debt through settlement agreements or reamortization.
- Avoid or delay foreclosure on collateral like real estate.
- Develop defense strategy if lender litigation initiated.
An SBA loan attorney serves as your advocate in dealing with lenders and pursuing the optimal resolution for your situation.
SBA Lender Litigation Defense
If an SBA lender pursues litigation over a defaulted loan, an attorney can help by:
- Contesting improper loan servicing or bad faith by lender.
- Asserting lender liability claims.
- Forcing mediation or settlement discussions.
- Defending against foreclosure actions on collateral.
Vigorous defense can create leverage for a favorable loan workout or other settlement.
Finding the Right SBA Loan Attorney
Look for an attorney with specific experience assisting borrowers on the following:
- SBA loan programs (7(a), 504, disaster, etc.).
- Loan modifications, restructuring, settlements.
- Lender negotiations, litigation and workouts.
- Chapter 11 bankruptcy for small businesses.
Be sure to understand fee arrangements and expected outcomes before retaining counsel.
Act Quickly to Resolve SBA Loan Debt
If you are struggling to pay an SBA-guaranteed loan, meeting with an attorney sooner rather than later is wise. An experienced SBA debt relief lawyer can protect your interests and help avoid significant financial harm to your business.
What happens if I default on my SBA loan?
First up, what does it actually mean to “default” on your loan? Basically, you default when you just stop making payments on your loan for a few months in a row. Your loan goes from being current to being delinquent. If you stay delinquent for too long without working something out with the bank, your loan gets the big bad stamp of default.
Now you might be wondering – how long do I have before my loan defaults? That varies a bit between different lenders, but usually it’s between 90 to 120 days of no payments before you’re considered in default. If you see you’re starting to miss payments, it’s best to contact your lender ASAP to try and work something out. Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away.
Alright, so what happens once you do default? Well first, the lender will start contacting you to let you know your loan is in default. They’ll want to know what’s up and see if you can come up with some money to get current on your payments. If you don’t respond or can’t come to an agreement, here’s what goes down:
- Your credit score takes a hit. Both your personal score and your business credit score will likely drop since you’ve got a defaulted loan listed.
- The lender can seize any collateral you put up for the loan. So if you backed your loan with your commercial property, equipment, etc., they can take possession of those assets.
- The lender reports your default to credit bureaus so it shows up on your credit report.
- The lender can sue you personally for the remaining loan balance.
- The lender can garnish your wages or put liens on your bank accounts.
- You may not qualify for future SBA loans.
Yikes, not a pretty picture. As you can see, defaulting on your SBA loan can tank your credit, put your assets at risk, and leave you exposed to lawsuits or wage garnishment. The good news is there are some options to avoid this mess.
Work Out a Deal With Your Lender
If you’re starting to struggle with payments, the best move is to contact your lender right away and explain the situation. See if they can offer some relief, like:
- Lower interest rate to reduce monthly payments
- Longer repayment term so you have more time to pay it back
- Temporary payment deferral for a few months
Lenders want to get repaid, so they’ll often work with you to modify the loan terms rather than force you into default. Be proactive and ask for help early on.
Apply for an SBA Disaster Loan
If COVID-19 or some other disaster impacted your business, you may qualify for a low interest SBA disaster loan up to $2 million. This loan could give you the funds to catch up on your existing SBA loan and avoid default. You can apply online in just a few minutes.
Ask About Debt Restructuring
For larger loans over $1 million, the SBA offers a debt restructuring program. This involves working with the SBA directly to modify your payment amount, get temporary principal reduction, and extend your loan term. It’s kind of like hitting the reset button on your loan. You’ll need to submit financial documents to prove hardship.
If things are really dire, filing business bankruptcy may be an option to discharge your SBA loan debt. Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates your business assets to pay creditors, while Chapter 11 restructures debts so you can keep operating. Bankruptcy damages your credit badly though.
The lesson here is don’t just ignore your loan payments and hope for the best. Be proactive and take action early to avoid a default. If things are looking bad, pick up the phone and call your lender ASAP to discuss options. And if you need additional help negotiating or restructuring your SBA loan, there are attorneys who specialize in these cases.