CFPB releases Juneteenth timing guidance rule
On August 5, the CFPB clarified that it will not penalize mortgage lenders that did not adjust some time-sensitive borrower protections for Juneteenth, noting that the quick enactment of the law designating the holiday left the industry “unsure of how to treat the day for purposes of regulatory compliance.”
The CFPB released an interpretive rule to provide guidance on the impact of the new Juneteenth federal holiday on Regulation Z timing requirements related to the provision of the TRID Closing Disclosure at least three “business days” prior to closing and a consumer’s right to rescind a transaction until midnight on the third “business day” following settlement.
On the afternoon of June 17, President Biden signed a bill establishing June 19, Juneteenth, as a federal holiday. The bill amends 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a) which codifies legal public holidays. Because June 19 fell on a Saturday this year, the holiday was observed on Friday, June 18.
The timing requirements for purposes of delivering the Closing Disclosure prior to closing and for establishing a consumer’s rescission period are measured in “specific business days” defined as “all calendar days except Sundays and legal public holidays” as specified in 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a). Thus, for some transactions, Saturday June 19 counted as a business day when Closing Disclosures were issued or the rescission period began, but no longer counted as a business day at the end of the relevant time period. In its interpretive rule, the Bureau states that it interprets the definition of “specific business day” to mean the “the version of the definition in effect when the relevant time period begins.” Accordingly, for the 2021 Juneteenth holiday and the affected timing requirements, if the relevant time period began on or before June 17, 2021, then June 19, 2021 is a business day. If the relevant time period began after June 17, 2021, then June 19, 2021 is counted as a federal holiday and not a business day for purposes of the specific business day definition.
As such, it appears that the Bureau will not penalize mortgage lenders for not adding an additional day to the applicable waiting periods to the extent that the waiting periods began on or before the day President Biden established Juneteenth as a federal holiday, while also noting the obvious that nothing prohibits creditors from providing longer wait periods. As an interpretive rule to advise the public prospectively how an agency proposes to exercise a discretionary power, the Bureau’s guidance is exempt from the notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act.