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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 October 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued Mortgagee Letter 20-33, which extends interim procedures regarding site access issues related to Section 232 mortgage insurance applications during the Covid-19 pandemic (previously covered here and here). The guidance provides temporary modifications pertaining to third-party site inspections for Section 232 FHA-insured healthcare facilities effective through December 31, 2020. 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 June 30, the Delaware governor issued an order that modifies previous relief relating to evictions, foreclosures, and insurance. Specifically, the declaration lifts the stay on residential mortgage foreclosure actions commenced prior to the state of emergency. However, subject to certain exceptions, individuals may not be removed from the residential properties as a result of a mortgage foreclosure process while the order is in effect. Further, actions for summary possession may be filed for residential units in Delaware, but must be stayed pending a determination of whether the parties would benefit from participating in court supervised mediation or alternative dispute resolution. During the eviction process, subject to certain exceptions, individuals may not be removed from the residential properties. Finally, beginning July 1, 2020, every insurer is required to provide a 90-day payment plan for certain individual policyholders and business policyholders impacted by the Covid-19 state of emergency.
On June 25, Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance, Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA) sent a letter to HUD and FHFA calling for amendments to policies which penalize loans that go into forbearance prior to being insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (GSEs). According to the lawmakers, policies put into place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic by HUD and FHFA prohibited loans in forbearance from FHA endorsement or from being purchased by the GSEs. While the agencies amended the policies to allow for FHA insurance and GSE purchases due to the current economic crisis (covered by InfoBytes here and here), the lawmakers claim that lenders are required to pay “significant fees” and “increased costs” for these loans, which results in lenders (i) retaining mortgages that they had no intention, or may not have the capacity to maintain; (ii) paying a steep penalty to the GSEs; or (iii) agreeing to retain additional risk in the case of FHA. As a result, lenders have started limiting loans and access to credit or requiring “credit overlays” that are “disproportionately affecting borrowers of color and other underserved borrowers.” The lawmakers also assert that if a lender retains a loan to avoid a penalty, the loan does not become federally-backed and is consequently ineligible for protections afforded by the CARES Act and other federal regulations. The lawmakers ask that the agencies amend their policies to instead “spread the costs associated with those risks across a broader single-family portfolio,” which will lead to “near-negligible costs” on individual loans and “appropriately balance the need to manage risks to the taxpayer while serving [the] agencies’ missions of promoting access to credit.”
On June 22, the Federal Housing Administration announced various policy changes to address the continuing impact of Covid-19. First, the FHA suspended the requirement that mortgagees select and review all early payment defaults on a monthly basis. Second, the FHA suspended the requirement that mortgagees conduct field reviews of 10 percent of FHA-insured mortgages on a monthly basis. Third, the FHA announced that it will consider the financial impact of Covid-19 as a mitigating factor when a mortgagee’s Compare Ratio is above a designated threshold. The FHA uses Compare Ratios to identify whether a termination or suspension of certain mortgagee authorities is needed under the Credit Watch Termination and Lender Insurance Program monitoring processes.
On March 12, HUD released Mortgagee Letter 2019-05, which alters home warranty requirements for FHA single-family mortgage insurance by removing the policy guidance that required borrowers to purchase ten-year protection plans in order to qualify for certain mortgages on newly constructed single-family homes. The borrower is still required to obtain a one-year warranty, which should commence on the date that title is conveyed to the borrower, the date that construction is completed, or the date that the borrower occupies the house, whichever occurs first. The changes are effective on March 14.
On February 13, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California announced a $3.67 million joint settlement with HUD and the Fair Housing Administration (FHA) to resolve allegations that a mortgage lender violated the False Claims Act by falsely certifying compliance with FHA mortgage insurance requirements. According to the settlement agreement, between 2007 and 2009, the mortgage lender, a participant in HUD’s Direct Endorsement Lender program, allegedly knowingly submitted false claims to the FHA loan insurance program by failing to ensure the loans qualified for FHA insurance when they were originated. The announcement notes that the settlement relates solely to allegations, and that there has been no determination of actual liability by the mortgage lender, which did not admit to liability in the settlement.
On October 19, the DOJ announced a $13.2 million settlement with a mortgage lender resolving allegations that the company violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by falsely certifying compliance with the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance requirements in violation of the False Claims Act (FCA). Specifically, the government alleged that, between 2006 and 2011, the lender failed to follow proper mortgage underwriting and certification rules as a participant in the direct endorsement lender program and knowingly submitted loans for FHA insurance that did not qualify. Additionally, DOJ alleged that the lender “improperly incentivized underwriters and knowingly failed to perform quality control reviews.” Under the direct endorsement lender program, FHA does not review a loan for compliance with FHA requirements before it is endorsed for FHA insurance; accordingly lenders are required to follow rules designed to ensure that they are properly underwriting and certifying mortgages for FHA insurance. This settlement also resolves a related whistleblower lawsuit filed under the FCA, in which the former employee of a related entity will receive approximately $2 million.
On August 15, Fannie Mae issued SVC-2018-05, which updates the Servicing Guide to include, among other things, a streamlined mortgage insurance (MI) claims process with certain mortgage insurers to “reduce the operational burden and cost associated with the process for servicers.” While servicers will continue to submit claims in accordance with the MI policy, participating mortgage insurers will now process all claims using an algorithm named the “MI Factor.” Effective October 1, claims settled using the MI Factor will not be subject to the curtailment billing process and servicers will not be required to submit supplemental claim submissions and claim appeals to the mortgage insurer. Fannie Mae also updated its Servicing Guide to include (i) clarification of the servicer’s responsibilities for addressing urgent property conditions; (ii) policy reminders regarding insured loss repay inspection reimbursements; and (iii) notification thresholds and timing requirements regarding the transfer of default-related matters between law firms within a single state.
On July 18, Fannie Mae released Lender Letter LL-2018-03 (Letter) to provide updates to requirements for single-family servicers related to borrower-initiated conventional mortgage insurance (MI) termination requests. The Letter covers requirements for borrower-initiated MI terminations and outlines various processes for verifying current property values. Among other things, the Letter also incorporates into the Servicing Guide changes previously announced in LL-2017-09 (see previous InfoBytes coverage here), which allows for temporary forbearance mortgage loan modification for servicers with mortgage loans affected by recent disasters. Fannie Mae encourages servicers to implement the new requirements on January 1, 2019, but will not require them to do so until March 1, 2019, unless otherwise noted.
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “How the new administration sets the tone for 2021” at the American Conference Institute Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Forum on Fintech & Emerging Payment Systems
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss UDAAP in consumer finance at an American Bar Association webinar
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "What to expect: The new administration and regulatory changes" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “The future of fair lending” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Steven R. vonBerg to discuss "LO comp challenges" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss “The False Claims Act today” at the Federal Bar Association Qui Tam Section Roundtable