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On May 1, the Texas Finance Commission adopted amendments related to application procedures for regulated residential mortgage loan originators (MLO). The amendments are intended to reduce costs for residential MLOs and to ensure consistency with current licensing procedures and processes. Among other things, the amendments lower MLO application and annual renewal fees from $300 to $200, and implement statutory changes from HB 1342 (enacted last year) related to criminal background checks for residential MLOs. Specifically, the amendments (i) repeal a provision that allowed for the “denial, suspension, or revocation for any offense occurring in the five years preceding the application”; (ii) add provisions requiring an agency to consider the correlation between the element of a crime and a licensed occupation’s duties and responsibilities; and (iii) remove language related to letters of recommendation provided on behalf of an MLO applicant. The amendments are effective as of May 7.
On March 25, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NMLS Policy Committee extended the deadline for certain reporting obligations satisfied through NMLS, and the enrollment window for taking the SAFE MLO test.
Companies required to submit financial statements, the Mortgage Call Report, and the Money Services Businesses Call Report will have an additional 60 days from pre-established deadlines to submit such reports. Individuals will have the testing window on their test appointments extended 180 days.
The NMLS Resource Center has been updated with additional resources to provide updates on state agency operating status. In addition, the NMLS Policy Committee is encouraging states to accept documentation electronically that otherwise may have been required in hard copy.
The full announcement can be found on the NMLS Resource Center.
On March 22, the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) issued guidance directed at escrow agents, finance lenders and servicers, student loan servicers, residential mortgage lenders and servicers, and MLOs whose customers may be suffering from loss of income or other financial hardships as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The guidance states that the DBO will not take enforcement action against licensees for operating unlicensed branches if, during the state of emergency, employees conduct activities from home that normally would require a branch license, provided that appropriate measures are taken to protect consumers and their data. The DBO also will not criticize student loan servicers or licensees sponsoring MLOs who permit their respective employees to work from home, provided that certain conditions are met. While the foregoing applies to Escrow Law licensees, the DBO notes that it cannot modify any restrictions that may be imposed by the Fidelity Corporation or the licensee’s surety bond. The DBO offers additional recommendations to licensees, including offering payment accommodations to avoid delinquencies and negative credit bureau reporting, easing terms for new mortgage loans to affected borrowers, and exercising discretion in determining which of their services and transactions are “essential services” for the purposes of “stay-in-place” or “shelter-in-place” orders. The DBO also noted that it will not criticize any late mortgage recordation that result from the closure of a county recorder’s office due to Covid-19.
On March 20, the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending issued a notice temporarily suspending any requirement that a physical office be open to the public during posted normal business hours. In addition, the notice provided that licensed MLOs may work from home or another remote location, whether located in Texas or another state, even if the home or remote location is not a licensed branch. However, MLOs are still subject to certain data security requirements and are prohibited from permitting consumers into the MLO’s home.
On March 20, the Indiana Department of Financial Institutions confirmed that because it does not require licenses for mortgage branch locations or require a licensee to work from a specific branch, there are no restrictions on an individual mortgage loan originator (MLO) from working from a home office.
On March 22, the California Department of Business Oversight (Department) issued guidance to escrow agents, finance lenders and servicers, student loan servicers, residential mortgage lenders and servicers, and mortgage loan originators in light of Covid-19 permitting employees of licensees to conduct activities from home that normally would require a branch license, provided that appropriate measures are taken to protect consumers and their data. Further, the Department will not criticize student loan servicers or licensees sponsoring MLOs who permit their respective employees to work from home, provided that certain data security and other conditions are met. Escrow Law licensees may also follow this guidance, however the licensees must still comply with the Fidelity Corporation or the licensee’s surety bond. Additionally, licensees are encouraged to assist consumers including through, among other things, offering payment accommodations.
On March 13, 2020, the South Carolina State Board of Financial Institutions, Consumer Finance Division (division) released guidance for mortgage origination and servicing companies regarding working remotely due to Covid-19. The division’s interim guidance allows licensed mortgage loan originators (MLO) to work from home provided that certain criteria are met including (i) the company establishes temporary supervisory policies and procedures; (ii) the MLO has secure access to the company’s origination system; (iii) the security of the MLO’s computer is maintained; and (iv) the MLO does not keep physical company records at the remote location.
On March 17, Prometric announced that, effective March 18, Prometric Test Centers in the U.S. and Canada will be closed for 30 days. This directly impacts state MLO license applicants as the SAFE MLO test, which individuals must pass to obtain an MLO license, is administered by Prometric.
On March 18, the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection provided interim guidance to MLOs, allowing employees to work from home as long as data security provisions are in place, and physical business records are stored only at the licensed main office. The guidance will be effective through May 1, 2020.
On March 17, the Minnesota Commerce Department issued guidance to mortgage originators and servicers outlining the process for temporarily or permanently closing branch offices in Minnesota. For permanent closures, a licensee should file a surrender through NMLS. For temporary closures, the licensee should notify the Department. In addition, if the licensee has individual MLOs working from a home office, they must not have consumers come to the unlicensed location, and the company’s data security standards should be maintained. No physical records should be maintained at the unlicensed location.
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Making customers whole: Trends in remediation and restitution expectations" at the American Bar Association Business Law Virtual Section Meeting
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Fairness gone viral: Fair lending considerations for financial institutions amid Covid-19" at the American Bar Association Business Law Virtual Section Meeting
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "High standards: Best practices for banking marijuana-related businesses" at the ACAMS AML & Anti-Financial Crime Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Wait wait ... do tell me! Where the panelists answer to you" at the ACAMS AML & Anti-Financial Crime Conference
- Matthew P. Previn and Walter E. Zalenski to discuss "Is valid when made ... valid?" at the Women in Housing & Finance Partner Series webinar
- Warren W. Traiger and Caroline K. Eisner to discuss "CRA modernization and the OCC final rule" at CBA Live
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "Transnational corruption: A chat with former U.S. federal prosecutors in New York" at Marval Live Talks
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk and Lauren Frank to discuss "New CFPB interpretation on UDAAP" at a California Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Quality and Compliance Committee webinar
- Thomas A. Sporkin to discuss "Managing internal investigations and advanced government defense" at the Securities Enforcement Forum
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "Independent monitoring in the United States" at the World Compliance Association Peru Chapter IV International Conference on Compliance and the Fight Against Corruption
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "The future of fair lending" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss "Pandemic fallout – Navigating practical operational challenges" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute