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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

State Law Update: Recent Changes in Maryland, Minnesota, and Mississippi

Foreclosure Mortgage Licensing Mortgage Servicing Debt Collection

Consumer Finance

Maryland Adds Foreclosure Registration Requirement, Authorizes Pre-file Mediation, Amends Mortgage Licensing. On May 2, Maryland Governor O’Malley signed House Bill 1373, which establishes a state foreclosed property registry. Foreclosure purchasers are required to (i) file an initial registration and pay a $50 registration fee for each foreclosed property within 30 days after a foreclosure sale, and (ii) file a final registration, with no additional fee, within 30 days after a deed transferring the title has been recorded. The law allows local jurisdictions to (i) enact laws that impose a civil penalty for failure to register under the new state requirement and (ii) collect from the foreclosure purchaser, as a charge on the property’s property tax bill, any costs associated with abating a nuisance on a registered property. The Governor also signed on May 2, House Bill 1374, which authorizes a secured party to offer to participate in pre-file mediation with a mortgagor or grantor to whom the secured party has delivered a notice of intent to foreclose. If the mortgagor or granter elects to participate, an order to docket or complaint to foreclose cannot be filed until the completion of the mediation. The bill also establishes a process through which a person with a secured interest in residential property that is in default can seek from a local jurisdiction a certificate of vacancy. If a certificate is not challenged by the record owner or occupant of the property the secured party can expedite the foreclosure process.

Finally, on the same date, Maryland enacted Senate Bill 546, which (i) requires a mortgage lender licensee to provide the commissioner with proof satisfying specified minimum net worth requirements within 90 days after the last day of the licensee’s most recent fiscal year and (ii) establishes a nonactive license status and process for licensees that cease to be employed by an approved financial institution.

Minnesota Amends Debt Collector Requirements. On April 23, Minnesota enacted House Bill 2335, which amends requirements for individual debt collectors and collection agencies. The bill (i) provides individual collectors additional time to report a change of contact information, (ii) sets requirements for a personnel screening process that a debt collection agency must follow in hiring and retaining individual collectors, and (iii) revises the list of past events that disqualify a person from registration as a debt collector. The final bill did not include a proposed revision that would have allowed individual debt collectors to remedy violations of the statute.

Mississippi Adds Protections for Bank Self-Assessments. On April 19, Mississippi enacted House Bill 1460 to grant privileged treatment to certain bank reports. The law takes effect July 1, 2012. Under the new law, reports reflecting voluntary self-assessments by banks, which are submitted to a bank regulator but not otherwise provided to third parties, will be considered privileged and not admissible in any legal or investigative action and are not subject to discovery in such actions. The law sets forth exceptions and circumstances under which the protections do not apply, including if a court determines that a report shows that a bank was not in compliance with a material provision of banking law, the bank did not initiate good-faith efforts to achieve substantial compliance within a reasonable time after the noncompliance was  discovered, and the bank's failure to comply caused material harm to a bank customer or consumer.

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