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Recently President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021—a funding measure which extends certain emergency authorities and temporary regulatory relief contained in the CARES Act (covered by InfoBytes here)—that includes a provision under Title XIV Covid-19 Consumer Protection Act, which allows the FTC to seek civil penalties for first-time violations of the FTC Act related to Covid-19 scams and deceptive practices. Specifically, the provision targets conduct “associated with—(1) the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation, or diagnosis of COVID-19; or (2) a government benefit related to COVID-19.” Such a violation would be “treated as a violation of a rule defining an unfair or deceptive act or practice prescribed under section 18(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)(1)(B)),” with violators subject to civil penalties. This authority is granted to the FTC for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On January 14, the FHFA announced the extension of several loan origination guidelines put in place to assist borrowers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, FHFA extended until February 28 existing guidelines related to: (i) alternative appraisal requirements on purchase and rate term refinance loans; (ii) alternative methods for documenting income and verifying employment before loan closing; and (iii) expanding the use of power of attorney to assist with loan closings. The extensions are implemented in updates to Fannie Mae Lender Letters LL-2020-03, LL 2020-04; and Freddie Mac Guide Bulletin 2021-1 and Selling FAQs.
On January 13, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal will open to all eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on January 15, with the portal fully opening on January 19 to all participating lenders. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act) provides an additional $284 billion for the PPP, extending the authority to make PPP loans through March 31, amending certain aspects of the program, and allowing for certain businesses to take second loans. The PPP portal initially reopened on January 11 to community financial institutions only in order to reach underserved and minority small businesses.
On January 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open the week of January 11, with only community financial institutions able to make “First Draw” PPP loans on Monday, January 11, and “Second Draw” PPP loans on Wednesday, January 13 (re-opening to all participating lenders “shortly thereafter”). The SBA also released two interim final rules and associated guidance relating to the relaunch of the PPP, as dictated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (HR133). The Act, which was signed by President Trump on December 27, extends certain emergency authorities and temporary regulatory relief contained in the CARES Act, including an extension of the eviction moratorium until January 31. Under a section titled, the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act), the legislation also provides an additional $284 billion for the PPP, extending the authority to make PPP loans through March 31, amending certain aspects of the program, and allowing for certain businesses to take second loans. The SBA notes that the new issuances satisfy the Economic Aid Act’s requirement that the agency promulgate rules to carry out the PPP provisions within 10 days of enactment:
- SBA Guidance. The guidance covers access to capital for minority, underserved, veteran, and women-owned business concerns and details the set-asides for loans issued by community development financial institutions, minority depository institutions, and certain small depository institutions. Most notably, the guidance states that the SBA will only accept PPP loan applications from community financial institutions for at least the first two days when the PPP loan portal re-opens.
- First Interim Final Rule. The interim final rule incorporates the Economic Aid Act’s amendments required to be implemented by regulation within 10 days of enactment. It also consolidates and restates SBA’s previous interim final rules and guidance covering the PPP (such as those governing borrower eligibility, lender eligibility, and PPP application and origination, and loan forgiveness). The interim final rule implements the various changes to the PPP made by the Economic Aid Act, including:
- Allowing additional expenses and forgivable uses for PPP funds, including certain operational expenditures, certain costs related to property damage due to public disturbances that occurred during 2020, certain supplier costs, and certain protective equipment expenditures. The expanded forgivable expenses may be utilized by borrowers who obtained PPP loans before the enactment of the Act so long as they have not already had their loans forgiven.
- Provisions stating that lenders (i) may rely on any certification or documentation submitted by applicants for both initial and second PPP loans, and (ii) may not be subject to enforcement action or penalties relating to loan origination or forgiveness, so long as (a) the lender acts in good faith relating to loan origination or forgiveness, and (b) all relevant federal, state, local and other statutory and regulatory requirements are satisfied.
- Certain streamlined conditions for loans of up to $150,000, including simplified loan forgiveness application and simplified certification of revenue for second loans.
- Second Interim Final Rule- PPP Second Draw. The interim final rule implements the key provisions of section 311 of the Economic Aid Act, allowing for a second PPP draw. Specifically, the Economic Aid Act allows for certain businesses to take a second loan under the PPP with a maximum draw amount of $2 million. In order to qualify, businesses must generally: (i) employ no more than 300 employees; (ii) have used or will use the full amount of their first PPP loan; and (iii) demonstrate at least a 25 percent reduction in gross receipts in the first, second, or third quarter of 2020 relative to the same quarter in 2019. Applications submitted after January 1, 2021 can utilize gross receipts from the fourth quarter of 2020. Additionally, the Economic Aid Act includes restrictions on types of eligible businesses, including entities involved in political and lobbying activities. Qualified borrowers may receive a loan amount of up to 2.5X the average monthly payroll costs during the 1-year period prior to the date of the loan or in calendar year 2019.
Additionally, in response to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the Federal Reserve Board extended the termination date of the Main Street Lending Program facilities to January 8, in order to allow more time to process and fund loans that were submitted to the portal on or before December 14, 2020. The SBA also extended the deadline to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program to December 31, pending the availability of funds.
On January 8, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a procedural notice discussing the repeal of Section 1110(e)(6) of the CARES Act, which required the SBA to deduct the amount of any Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance received by a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrower from the PPP forgiveness payment from the SBA to the PPP lender. According to the notice, effective immediately, the SBA will no longer deduct EIDL advances from PPP forgiveness payments and will apply this change to any SBA forgiveness payments that were confirmed by December 29, 2020 or later.
Additionally, for any forgiveness payments that were already reduced by an EIDL advance, the SBA will automatically remit a reconciliation payment to the PPP lender that will include the advance amount, plus interest through the remittance date. The SBA notes that the PPP lender does not need to request the reconciliation payment, but must notify the borrower of the payment, re-amortize the loan, and notify the borrower of the next payment amount or whether the loan has been paid in full.
On December 28, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a notice to financial institutions concerning the potential for Covid-19 vaccine-related fraud, ransomware attacks, and other types of criminal activity. Specifically, FinCEN warns financial institutions to be aware of the potential sale of unapproved and illegally marketed vaccines, as well as fraudsters offering vaccines sooner than allowed for a fee. Financial institutions should also look out for ransomware targeting vaccine delivery operations and supply chains. The notice provides instructions for filing suspicious activity reports regarding the aforementioned activity.
On January 6, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued an order dismissing a putative class action against two national banks alleging that the banks owe fees to agents that helped businesses file applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The named plaintiff, a consulting company that aided borrowers in applying for federally guaranteed loans through the PPP, argued that its agents were entitled to fees from the banks that provided PPP loans. The court disagreed, finding that the CARES Act and its implementing regulations do not require lenders to pay agent fees absent an express agreement between an agent and the lender. The court further found that “nothing behind language in the CARES Act suggests that Congress intended to create an implied private right of action.”
On December 28, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued Circular 26-20-40, which further extends foreclosure and eviction relief for borrowers affected by Covid-19 (previously covered here). Specifically, all properties secured by VA-guaranteed loans, including those previously secured by VA-guaranteed loans but currently in the VA’s REO (real estate owned) portfolio, are subject to a moratorium on foreclosure and eviction through February 28, 2021. With the exception of abandoned or vacant property, the moratorium applies to the initiation of foreclosures, the completion of foreclosures in process and evictions.
On December 28, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued Mortgagee Letter 2020-50, which extends interim procedures regarding site access issues related to Section 232 mortgage insurance applications during the Covid-19 pandemic (previously covered here, here and here). The guidance provides temporary modifications pertaining to third-party site inspections conducted for Section 232 FHA-insured healthcare facilities. The modifications are effective through March 31, 2021. The letter also provides guidance on other aspects relating to Section 232 properties, including regarding lender underwriter site visits, appraisals, and inspections on new construction, among other things.
On December 22, Fannie Mae issued Supplement 20-16 extending the expiration of its Covid-19 forbearance delegation for servicers of multi-family units until March 31, 2021. The forbearance delegation authorizes servicers to grant initial forbearances of up to 3 months, and extensions for an additional 3 months, subject to various requirements. Specific forms are provided for servicer’s use in granting forbearances and extensions.
- Steven R. vonBerg to discuss "Non-QM market overview & the impact of QM 2.0" at the IMN Non-QM Virtual Conference
- Buckley Webcast: Looking ahead — Tighter scrutiny of deposit and payment practices
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "What have you bought non-QM post-Covid?" at the IMN Non-QM Virtual Conference
- Magda Gathani to discuss "Cryptocurrency meets banks" at the Women in Housing & Finance Partner Series
- Garylene D. Javier to moderate "Innovation in an evolving privacy landscape" at the American Bar Association Business Law Section Consumer Financial Services Committee Winter Meeting