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Maryland regulator reminds student loan servicers of obligation to report suspended payments as current
On May 18, the Office of the Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation issued an advisory to student loan servicers and credit reporting agency registrants to remind them of their furnishing obligations under the federal CARES Act to ensure that suspended payments are not reported as delinquent. The advisory notes that it has come to the office’s attention that a student loan servicer of a significant amount of federal student loan debt was not accurately furnishing information and reminds servicers that under Maryland’s Student Loan Servicing Bill of Rights, it is a violation of Maryland law to knowing or recklessly provide inaccurate information or refuse to correct it.
On May 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied the SBA’s emergency motion for a stay of the district court’s injunction against the agency’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Ineligibility Rule. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the district court granted a preliminary injunction against the SBA’s PPP Ineligibility Rule—which, in relevant part, excludes from PPP loan eligibility “sexually oriented businesses that present entertainment or sell products of a ‘prurient’ (but not unlawful) nature.” The district court concluded that the Rule was in conflict with the Congressional purpose of the CARES Act, which houses the PPP, to protect workers in need during the Covid-19 pandemic, including workers for businesses that have been historically excluded from SBA financial assistance.
The 6th Circuit agreed with the district court, denying the motion for a stay. The court noted that the CARES Act specifies that eligibility “is conferred on ‘any business concern,’” which “encompasses sexually oriented businesses.” It went on to state that “the public interest is served in guaranteeing that any business, including plaintiffs, receive loans to protect and support their employees during the pandemic.”
In dissent, one judge argued that it is “unclear whether Congress meant that any business concern was eligible for a PPP loan regardless of SBA restrictions,” and therefore, the injunction should be stayed pending a decision on the merits.
On May 15, the Small Business Administration (SBA) in consultation with the Treasury Department announced the release of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application that borrowers must complete in order to have their loans forgiven at the conclusion of the eight-week covered period, which begins upon loan disbursement. The application provides specific instructions, including several measures designed to reduce compliance burdens and simplify the process. These include: (i) “[o]ptions for borrowers to calculate payroll costs using an ‘alternative payroll covered period’ that aligns with borrowers’ regular payroll cycles”; (ii) the flexibility to count any eligible payroll and non-payroll expenses paid or incurred during the eight-week period after the disbursement of a borrower’s PPP loan; (iii) clear instructions on how to perform calculations to confirm eligibility for loan forgiveness as required by the CARES Act; (iv) a safe harbor from forgiveness reduction for borrowers that were able to rehire employees by June 30; and (v) the addition of a new exemption from forgiveness reduction “for borrowers who have made a good-faith, written offer to rehire workers that was declined[.]” The SBA announced it “will also soon issue regulations and guidance to further assist borrowers as they complete their applications, and to provide lenders with guidance on their responsibilities.”
On May 15, the CFPB and Conference of State Bank Supervisors jointly issued a Consumer Relief Guide to provide information to homeowners with federally-backed mortgage loans regarding their rights to relief under the CARES Act. The Guide outlines steps for requesting forbearance and provides additional resources for borrowers who need assistance when understanding their options or working with their mortgage servicers. The Bureau also refers borrowers to its centralized webpage, which covers consumer financial resources for the Covid-19 pandemic (covered by InfoBytes here), as well as its joint housing assistance website launched in coordination with the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (covered by InfoBytes here).
The New York Department of Financial Services has updated its resource page providing information for consumers and small businesses relating to Covid-19. The resource page provides information on, among other things, deferrals of insurance premium payments, the federal CARES Act legislation, and essential businesses guidance and FAQs.
Fannie Mae updates guidance on payment deferrals and loan modifications after a forbearance and extends foreclosure moratorium
On May 14, Fannie Mae updated Lender Letter 2020-02 to provide updates regarding the reclassification process for certain pooled loans in response to the CARES Act. The letter (previously discussed here) also provides guidance on evaluating a borrower for a payment deferral or mortgage loan modification after a forbearance and extend its foreclosure moratorium until June 30. The guidance on post-forbearance evaluations provides certain flexibility with respect to achieving quality right party contact (QRPC). Fannie Mae has eliminated the requirement that the servicer determine the occupancy status of the property and will consider the servicer as having achieved QRPC for purposes of evaluating a borrower who has experienced a hardship arising from Covid-19 if the servicer takes certain steps. Fannie Mae also extended the availability of certain post-disaster mortgage loan modifications in the Servicing Guide to borrowers impacted by Covid-19. The letter also extends Fannie Mae’s suspension of foreclosure-related activities until June 30.
On May 14, FHA issued Mortgagee Letter 2020-13, which extends the foreclosure and eviction moratorium in connection with the Covid-19 emergency and issues new reporting requirements related to FHA single family’s CARES Act loss mitigation options. The foreclosure moratorium is extended to June 30, 2020, and applies to FHA-insured single family mortgages, except vacant or abandoned properties. The moratorium on evictions of persons from properties securing FHA-insured single family mortgages, excluding actions to evict occupants of legally vacant or abandoned properties, is also extended for the same period. The bulletin also provides guidance on how mortgagees must report the Default/Delinquency Reason Codes that apply to the borrower at the end of each reporting cycle. The mortgagee must update the code as the borrower’s circumstances change.
Michigan regulator encourages financial institutions to avoid offsetting CARES Act stimulus payments
On May 14, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services issued a bulletin “strongly” urging Michigan financial institutions not to access CARES Act stimulus payments to satisfy overdrafts or to exercise any right of offset against the funds without the agreement of the customer or member. The regulator also “strongly” urged financial institutions not to use CARES Act stimulus payments for ATM, late payment, overdraft, or other fees.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently issued an interim final rule (IFR) to supplement the CARES Act and extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) safe harbor for repayment from May 7 to May 14. Borrowers who received a PPP loan prior to April 24 but determined that the funds were “obtained based on a misunderstanding or misapplication of the required certification standard” will be deemed by the SBA to have made the borrower certification on a loan application in good faith if they repay the loans in full by May 14. Additional guidance on the safe harbor extension is forthcoming. (The SBA first announced the repayment extension last week in updated Frequently Asked Questions, covered by InfoBytes here.) Due to the safe harbor extension, the IFR also extends the deadline to May 22 for PPP lenders to file yet-to-be released Form 1502 in order to receive their lender processing fees. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the SBA stated that PPP lenders must disburse each loan and submit SBA Form 1502 within 20 days of loan approval. The IFR takes effect upon publication in the Federal Register, with comments due within 30 days.
On May 13, the FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, announced a new Covid-19 payment deferral option that will be available starting on July 1. According to Fannie Mae Lender Letter LL-2020-07 and Freddie Mac Bulletin 2020-15, the new Covid-19 payment deferral is “a new workout option specifically designed to help borrowers impacted by a hardship related to Covid-19 return their mortgage to a current status after up to 12 months of missed payments.”
The new option is for borrowers who (i) are on a Covid-19 related forbearance plan, or (ii) have a resolved financial hardship due to Covid-19. Specifically, the servicer is required to confirm that the borrower is now able to continue making the full monthly contractual payment of their loan but is unable to reinstate the mortgage loan or afford a repayment plan to cure the previous delinquency. If a borrower is eligible for the Covid-19 payment deferral, the servicer must allow the borrower to resume their contractual monthly payments; however, the delinquency amount (which includes up to 12 months of past-due principal and interest payments; out-of-pocket escrow advances paid to third parties; and servicing advances paid to third parties in the ordinary course of business) must be deferred as a non-interest bearing balance, due and payable at liquidation, refinance, or maturity. Among other requirements detailed by the Lender Letter and Bulletin, servicers must report the loan in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as amended by the CARES Act, which requires lenders to report as current any loans subject to Covid-19 forbearance or other accommodation. Additionally, servicers must waive all late charges, penalties, and fees upon completing the Covid-19 payment deferral.
In addition to the new Covid-19 payment deferral, borrowers will continue to have other hardship options including repayment plans, lump-sum repayment, or permanent modification. Servicers must begin evaluating borrowers for the Covid-19 payment deferral beginning July 1.
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- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Fair servicing in wake of Covid-19" at an American Bar Association webinar
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- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Cram for the exam: Best prep strategies for a regulatory examination" at an ACAMS webinar
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