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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB Proposes Amendment to Regulation B to Harmonize Regulation B with Other Mortgage Lending Regulations

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Regulation B ECOA Mortgage Lenders HMDA

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On March 24, the CFPB announced the release of its proposal to amend Regulation B (12 CFR Part 1002), which implements the ECOA, a federal civil rights law that protects applicants from discrimination by lenders. According to the Bureau, the proposed amendment is intended to “provide additional flexibility for mortgage lenders concerning the collection of consumer demographic information.” Specifically, the regulation, as amended, would allow lenders to use the updated Uniform Residential Loan Application form adopted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2016, rather than the 2004 version currently included in Regulation B, along with additional changes that would permit lenders to employ more uniform practices.

As explained in a March 24 CFPB blog post, a core justification for the proposed change is consistency and clarity with respect to other Bureau rules. While ECOA and Regulation B generally prohibit creditors from asking loan applicants about their race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, or gender, in some cases, such as mortgage loans, other regulations (i.e., Regulation C and the HMDA) require creditors to specifically ask for some of the very same information – including, for instance, race and ethnicity. To address this issue, the proposed amendments would allow institutions not subject to HMDA reporting requirements to choose on an “application-by-application basis” between two approaches to collecting personal demographic data from applicants: either the more limited, aggregate race and ethnicity categories required by Regulation B, or the disaggregated and more expansive categories required for HMDA-reporting institutions under revisions to Regulation C effective in 2018. The new rule would also create a safe harbor allowing for the collection (in certain circumstances) of data previously barred by Regulation B, establish consistent race and ethnicity categories that could be used in complying with both Regulation B and C.

Comments on the proposal will be due within 30 days of its publication in the Federal Register.

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