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On May 6, the CFPB issued its annual fair lending report to Congress, which outlines the Bureau’s efforts in 2021 to fulfill its fair lending mandate. Much of the Bureau’s work in 2021 focused on addressing racial injustice and long-term economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the report, the Bureau continued to prioritize promoting fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory access to credit, with a particular focus on fair lending supervision efforts in areas related to “mortgage origination and pricing, small business lending, student loan origination work, policies and procedures regarding geographic and other exclusions in underwriting, and  the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning models.” Fair Lending Director Patrice Alexander Ficklin said that while she is “encouraged by the possibility of utilizing vehicles like special purpose credit programs to expand access to credit,” she remains “skeptical of claims that advanced algorithms are the cure-all for bias in credit underwriting and pricing.” The report addressed enforcement and supervision work, highlighting four fair lending-related enforcement actions taken last year related to (i) illegal redlining practices; (ii) failure to provide accurate denial reasons on adverse-action notices; (iii) UDAAP violations related to the treatment of “gate money” for incarcerated individuals; and (iv) fees and payments associated with immigration bonds. The report also discussed initiatives concerning small business lending and data collection rulemaking, automated valuation models rulemaking, and a final rule amending certain provisions in Regulation X related to Covid-19 protections offered by mortgage servicers. Additionally, the report discussed an interpretive rule concerning ECOA’s prohibition on sex discrimination, stakeholder engagement on matters concerning fair lending compliance and policy decisions, HMDA reporting, and interagency engagement and reporting, among other topics. The report noted that going forward, the Bureau intends to sharpen its focus on digital redlining and algorithmic bias to identify emerging risks as more tech companies influence the financial services marketplace. According to CFPB Director Rohit Chopra, “[w]hile technology holds great promise, it can also reinforce historical biases that have excluded too many Americans from opportunities.”
On March 23, the CFPB announced that the HMDA modified loan/application register (LAR) is available on the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council’s HMDA Platform for approximately 4,316 HMDA filers. According to the announcement, the modified LARs provide each financial institution's loan-level HMDA data, as modified to protect applicant and borrower privacy in accordance with the CFPB’s final policy guidance on the disclosure of HMDA data. Additionally, the 2021 HMDA data will be available later this year in other forms to provide users insights into the data, which will include: (i) a nationwide loan-level dataset with all publicly available data for all HMDA reporters; (ii) aggregate and disclosure reports with summary information by geography and lender; and (iii) the HMDA Data Browser to allow users to customize datasets, reports, and data maps. Additionally, the FFIEC released an updated version of “A Guide To HMDA Reporting: Getting It Right!," which is designed to be an "easy-to-use summary of certain key requirements" of Regulation C.
On January 27, the CFPB published the Reportable HMDA Data: A Regulatory and Reporting Overview Reference Chart for HMDA Data Collected in 2022. The chart serves as a reference tool for data points that are required to be collected, recorded, and reported under Regulation C, as amended by HMDA rules, which were most recently issued in April 2020 (covered by InfoBytes here). The chart also provides relevant regulation and commentary sections and guidance for when to report “not applicable or exempt.” The Bureau notes that the “chart does not provide data fields or enumerations used in preparing the HMDA loan/application register (LAR).” For additional information on preparing the HMDA LAR, financial institutions should consult FFIEC guidance here.
On January 31, the CFPB released its semiannual regulatory agenda in the Federal Register, as part of the Fall 2021 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. According to the CFPB, it “reasonably anticipates having the regulatory matters identified below under consideration during the period from November 1, 2021 to October 31, 2022.” The next agenda will be published in Spring 2022, which will update the recently released agenda through Spring 2023. Among other things, the agenda noted that the Bureau made “significant progress” on the implementation of Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which covers banks’ collection, reporting, and disclosure of information on credit applications made by women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses. Other highlights of the agenda include the Bureau’s: (i) continued collaboration with other federal agencies on regulations for automated valuation models under the FIRREA amendments to Dodd-Frank; (ii) expectation to issue a final rule on the transition away from the LIBOR index, which aims to ensure that loans tied to LIBOR are transitioned “in an orderly, transparent, and fair manner”; (iii) assessment of a rule implementing HMDA; (iv) work on regulations for PACE financing and its “continu[ed] engagement with stakeholders and collect information” from a Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, issued in March 2019 (covered by InfoBytes here); and (v) continued monitoring of consumer financial product markets and creation of working groups to focus on specific markets for potential future rulemakings.
On January 18, the CFPB issued “reminders and tips” for preparing and uploading submission for 2021 HMDA data, which will close for on-time submissions on March 1. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the filing period for HMDA data collected in 2021 opened on January 1. According to the CFPB, filers are encouraged to utilize the 2021 Beta Platform to test their loan/application register files prior to submission, which is available on an ongoing basis. However, no data submitted on the Beta Platform will be considered for compliance with HMDA data reporting requirements. Regarding open-end thresholds, the threshold for reporting data about open-end lines of credit is 200 in each of the two preceding calendar years, which became effective January 1. The CFPB also noted, among other things, that: (i) the Legal Entity Identifier, used to register with the HMDA Platform and submit HMDA data must relate to the institution covered by Regulation C; (ii) an institution is required to report whether the obligation arising from a covered loan was, or for an application would have been, initially payable to the institution, except for purchased covered loans and transactions covered by a partial exemption; and (iii) users can use their existing credentials to log in to the 2021 HMDA Data Platform.
On January 4, the CFPB announced that the filing period for HMDA data collected in 2021 opened on January 1. According to the CFPB, submissions will be considered timely if received by March 1. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in September 2020, the CFPB released the Filing Instructions Guide for HMDA data collected in 2022 that must be reported in 2023. The guide states that there are no significant changes to the submission process and that the required data fields to be collected and reported have not changed. Instructions for quarterly reporting can be found in the Supplemental Quarterly Reporting Guide. According to the CFPB’s recent announcement, passwords are reset every 90 days and users will receive a confirmation email upon submission of their HMDA data. The CFPB also noted that the 2021 Beta Platform is available on an ongoing basis for filers intending to test their submissions, however, “[n]o data submitted on the Beta Platform will be considered for compliance with HMDA data reporting requirements.”
On December 23, the CFPB announced final rules adjusting the asset-size thresholds under HMDA (Regulation C) and TILA (Regulation Z). Both rules took effect January 1, 2022. Under HMDA, institutions with assets below certain dollar thresholds are exempt from the collection and reporting requirements. The final rule increases the asset-size exemption threshold for banks, savings associations, and credit unions from $48 million to $50 million, thereby exempting institutions with assets of $50 million or less as of December 31, 2021, from collecting and reporting HMDA data in 2022. TILA, likewise, exempts certain entities from the requirement to establish escrow accounts when originating higher-priced mortgage loans (HPMLs), including entities with assets below the asset-size threshold established by the CFPB. The final rule increases this asset-size exemption threshold from $2.230 billion to $2.336 billion, thereby exempting creditors with assets of $2.336 billion or less as of December 31, 2021, from the requirement to establish escrow accounts for HPMLs in 2022.
On December 17, the OCC released revised interagency HMDA examination procedures for HMDA compliance. The revised examination procedures address changes made to the effective dates for banks meeting or exceeding either the closed-end mortgage loans or the open-end lines of credit loan-volume threshold in each of the two preceding calendar years. Effective July 1, 2020, a bank that “originated at least 100 closed-end mortgage loans in each of the two preceding calendar years, or originated at least 500 open-end lines of credit in each of the two preceding calendar years meets or exceeds the loan-volume threshold.” Effective January 1, 2022, the temporary 500 open-end lines of credit provision expires, and a bank that “originated at least 100 closed-end mortgage loans in each of the two preceding calendar years, or originated at least 200 open-end lines of credit in each of the two preceding calendar years” will now meet or exceed the loan-volume threshold. The revised examination procedures also outline changes to partial exemptions for an application or covered loan. A partial exemption applies to: (i) applications for originations of, and purchases of closed-end mortgage loans when the bank originated fewer than 500 closed-end mortgage loans in each of the two preceding calendar years, and (ii) applications for originations of, and purchases of open-end lines of credit provided the bank originated fewer than 500 open-end lines of credit in each of the two preceding calendar years.
Bulletin 2021-63 rescinds OCC Bulletin 2010-8, “Compliance Policy: Revised Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Examination Procedures,” as well as OCC Bulletin 2019-19, “Home Mortgage Disclosure Act: Revised Interagency Examination Procedures.”
On December 13, the Office of Information And Regulatory Affairs released the CFPB’s fall 2021 rulemaking agenda. According to a Bureau announcement, the information released represents regulatory matters the Bureau plans to pursue during the period from November 2, 2021 to October 31, 2022. Additionally, the Bureau stated that the latest agenda reflects continued rulemakings intended to further its consumer financial protection mission and help advance the country’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Promoting racial and economic equity and supporting underserved and marginalized communities’ access to fair and affordable credit continue to be Bureau priorities.
Key rulemaking initiatives include:
- Small Business Rulemaking. This fall, the Bureau issued its long-awaited proposed rule (NPRM) for Section 1071 regulations, which would require a broad swath of lenders to collect data on loans they make to small businesses, including information about the loans themselves, the characteristics of the borrower, and demographic information regarding the borrower’s principal owners. (Covered by a Buckley Special Alert.) The NPRM comment period goes through January 6, 2022, after which point the Bureau will review comments as it moves to develop a final rule. Find continuing Section 1071 coverage here.
- Consumer Access to Financial Records. The Bureau noted that it is working on rulemaking to implement Section 1033 of Dodd-Frank in order to address the availability of electronic consumer financial account data. The Bureau is currently reviewing comments received in response to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) issued fall 2020 regarding consumer data access (covered by InfoBytes here). Additionally, the Bureau stated it is monitoring the market to consider potential next steps, “including whether a Small Business Review Panel is required pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act.”
- Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Bureau published an ANPR in March 2019 seeking feedback on the unique features of PACE financing and the general implications of regulating PACE financing under TILA (as required by Section 307 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which amended TILA to mandate that the Bureau issue certain regulations relating to PACE financing). The Bureau noted that it continues “to engage with stakeholders and collect information for the rulemaking, including by pursuing quantitative data on the effect of PACE on consumers’ financial outcomes.”
- Automated Valuation Models (AVM). Interagency rulemaking is currently being pursued by the Bureau, Federal Reserve Board, OCC, FDIC, NCUA, and FHFA to develop regulations for AVM quality control standards as required by Dodd-Frank amendments to FIRREA. The standards are designed to, among other things, “ensure a high level of confidence in the estimates produced by the valuation models, protect against the manipulation of data, seek to avoid conflicts of interest, require random sample testing and reviews,” and account for any other appropriate factors. An NPRM is anticipated for June 2022.
- Amendments to Regulation Z to Facilitate LIBOR Transition. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Bureau issued a final rule on December 7 to facilitate the transition from LIBOR for consumer financial products, including “adjustable-rate mortgages, credit cards, student loans, reverse mortgages, [and] home equity lines of credit,” among others. The final rule amended Regulation Z, which implements TILA, to generally address LIBOR’s eventual cessation for most U.S. dollar settings in June 2023, and establish requirements for how creditors must select replacement indices for existing LIBOR-linked consumer loans. The final rule generally takes effect April 1, 2022.
- Reviewing Existing Regulations. The Bureau noted in its announcement that it decided to conduct an assessment of a rule implementing HMDA (most of which took effect January 2018), and referred to a notice and request for comments issued last month (covered by InfoBytes here), which solicited public comments on its plans to assess the effectiveness of the HMDA Rule. Additionally, the Bureau stated that it finished a review of Regulation Z rules implementing the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, and that “[a]fter considering the statutory review factors and public comments,” it “determined that the CARD Act rules should continue without change.”
Notably, there are 14 rulemaking activities that are listed as inactive on the fall 2021 agenda, including rulemakings on overdraft services, consumer reporting, student loan servicing, Regulation E modernization, abusive acts and practices, loan originator compensation, and TILA/RESPA mortgage disclosure integration.
On November 16, the CFPB issued a notice and request for comments regarding the rules for implementing the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The Request for Information (RFI) solicits public comments on its plans to assess the effectiveness of the HMDA Rule, focusing on, among other things: (i) institutional and transactional coverage; (ii) data points; (iii) benefits of the new data and disclosure requirements; and (iv) operational and compliance costs. According to the CFPB, the RFI follows a 2021 HMDA report, which found that mortgage lenders deny credit and charge higher interest rates to Black and Hispanic applicants more often than white applicants, and a July 2021 report that analyzed 2020 HMDA loan data and examined the differences in mortgage characteristics across Asian American and Pacific Islander subgroups. (Covered previously by InfoBytes here and here.) Additionally, the RFI notes that the Bureau expects to issue a report on the findings of its assessment of the HMDA Rule by January 1, 2023. The Bureau also notes that it “plans to review recent changes to the rule and evaluate their effectiveness,” and that the assessment “will strengthen the CFPB’s ability to maintain a fair, competitive, and non-discriminatory mortgage market.” The deadline for submitting comments on the RFI is 60 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.