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  • District Court enters first significant decision under CFPB’s ATR/QM Rule

    Courts

    On March 26, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in what appears to be the first significant decision on claims brought against a mortgage lender under the CFPB’s Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule, granted summary judgment in favor of the lender. The court rejected plaintiff’s claims that his bank improperly relied on income under his spousal support agreement, stating that “[t]he fact that Plaintiff and [his spouse] did not keep the separation agreement and instead opted to divorce – a series of events which reduced Plaintiff’s income by an order of magnitude – was not an event that was reasonably foreseeable to the Bank.” The court also noted that, “[a]lthough Plaintiff is now in his eighties, he is a repeat player in the field of real estate and mortgages, and a consumer of above-average sophistication.” While this decision does not break new legal ground, it does provide useful insights into how courts may respond to inherently fact-specific claims about the underwriting of individual loans.

    Courts Ability To Repay Qualified Mortgage Mortgages Mortgage Lenders Lending CFPB

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  • CFPB proposes to rescind ability-to-repay standards in payday rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On February 6, the CFPB released two notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) related to certain payday lending requirements under the agency’s 2017 final rule covering “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” (the Rule). As previously covered by InfoBytes, last October the Bureau announced plans to reconsider the Rule’s mandatory underwriting requirements and address the Rule’s compliance date.

    The first NPRM proposed will rescind certain provisions of the Rule related to underwriting standards for payday loans and related products scheduled to take effect later this year. Specifically, the CFPB proposes to rescind the portion of the Rule that would make it an unfair and abusive practice for a lender to make covered high-interest rate, short-term loans or covered longer-term balloon payment loans without reasonably determining that the consumer has the ability to repay. The proposed changes would also rescind prescribed mandatory underwriting requirements for making the ability-to-repay determination, provisions exempting certain loans from the mandatory underwriting requirements, as well as related definitions, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements. The CFPB explains that it now initially determines that the evidence underlying the identification of the unfair and abusive practice in the Rule “is not sufficiently robust and reliable to support that determination, in light of the impact those provisions will have on the market for covered short-term and longer-term balloon-payment loans, and the ability of consumers to obtain such loans, among other things.” If finalized, the proposals represent a significant change to the Rule as finalized during the tenure of former Bureau Director Richard Cordray in October 2017. (See Buckley Special Alert for more detailed coverage on the Rule.) Comments will be accepted for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register.

    The second NPRM seeks to delay the Rule’s compliance date for mandatory underwriting provisions from August 19, 2019 to November 19, 2020. Notably, the Bureau states in a press release announcing the NPRMs that the proposal to delay the effective date does not extend to the Rule’s provisions governing payments, which “prohibit payday and certain other lenders from making a new attempt to withdraw funds from an account where two consecutive attempts have failed unless consumers consent to further withdrawals.” Lenders also will still be required to provide written notice to consumers both before the first attempt to withdraw payment from their accounts, as well as prior to subsequent attempts involving different dates, amounts, or payment channels. These provisions are not under reconsideration and will take effect August 19, 2019. Comments will be accepted for 30 days following publication in the Federal Register.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Payday Lending Underwriting Federal Register Ability To Repay Payday Rule

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  • CFPB issues five-year lookback for 2013 ATR/QM and Mortgage Servicing Rule

    Federal Issues

    On January 10, the CFPB released the assessment reports required by Section 1022(d) of the Dodd-Frank Act for two of its 2013 mortgage rules: the TILA Ability-to-Repay and Qualified Mortgage (ATR/QM) Rule and the RESPA Mortgage Servicing Rule. The assessment reports were conducted using the Bureau’s own research and external sources. The reports do not include a benefit-cost analysis of either rule, nor do they propose amendments to the rules or contain any other policy recommendations. However, the Bureau expects the reports to be used to “inform the Bureau’s future policy decisions.”

    The ATR/QM Rule became effective in January 2014 and generally requires that lenders make a reasonable and good faith determination, based on documented information, that the borrower has the reasonable ability to repay the mortgage loan. Highlights of the report’s findings include:

    • While it is difficult to distinguish the effects of the ATR/QM Rule and the marketwide tightening of underwriting standards following the housing crisis, the rule may have restricted the reintroduction of certain types of loans that were associated with high delinquency or foreclosure rates, such as loans based on limited or no documentation of income or assets, loans with low initial monthly payments that reset after a period of time, and loans with high debt-to-income ratios.
    • The ATR/QM Rule was not generally associated with an improvement in loan performance, as measured by the percentage of loans becoming 60 or more days delinquent within two years of origination.
    • The ATR/QM Rule did not impact access to credit for self-employed borrowers who were eligible for a GSE loan. For other self-employed borrowers, the Bureau acknowledged lenders may find it difficult to comply with the Appendix Q documentation and calculation requirements but found that approval rates for this population decreased only slightly.
    • While the costs of originating a mortgage loan have increased substantially over time, the ATR/QM Rule does not appear to have materially increased the lenders’ costs or the prices the lenders charged to consumers, at an aggregate market level. However, based on data from nine lenders, the Bureau estimated the foregone profits from not originating certain types of non-QM loans at $20-$26 million per year.
    • Contrary to the Bureau’s expectations when it issued the ATR/QM Rule, the GSEs have maintained a persistently high share of the market, and the market for non-QM loans remains relatively small.

    The Mortgage Servicing Rule became effective in January 2014 and, among other things, imposes procedural requirements on servicers with respect to loss mitigation and foreclosure for delinquent borrowers. Highlights of the report’s findings include:

    • Loans that became delinquent were less likely to proceed to a foreclosure during the months after the Mortgage Servicing Rule’s effective date compared to months prior to the effective date and were more likely to return to current status. For borrowers who became delinquent the year the rule took effect, the Bureau estimated that, absent the rule, at least 26,000 additional borrowers would have experienced foreclosure within three years, and at least 127,000 fewer borrowers would have recovered from delinquency within three years.
    • The cost of servicing mortgage loans has increased substantially; the main increase in costs occurred before the Mortgage Servicing Rule took effect and is not attributable to the rule. However, some servicers reported significant ongoing costs of complying with the rule, which can be attributable with the need for “robust control functions” and higher personnel costs to support increased communication with delinquent borrowers.
    • The time from borrower initiation of a loss mitigation application to short-sale offer increased in 2015 compared to 2012.
    • A larger share of borrowers who completed loss mitigation applications in 2015 were able to avoid foreclosure than borrowers who completed loss mitigation applications in 2012.
    • The rate of written error assertions per account fell by about one-half after the Mortgage Servicing Rule’s effective date compared to the prior three years.
    • There was a moderate decrease in the share of borrowers receiving force-placed insurance and the Rule’s effective date, which can be attributable to the Rule but also to the changes in the insurance market.

    Federal Issues Dodd-Frank Ability To Repay Qualified Mortgage Mortgage Servicing TILA RESPA CFPB

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  • CFPB will propose changes to ability-to-repay provisions in Payday Rule in January 2019

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 26, the CFPB announced it expects to publish proposed rules reconsidering the ability-to-repay provisions of the rule covering Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans (the Rule) in January 2019. The Bureau does not intend to reconsider the payment provisions of the Rule, noting that the ability-to-repay provisions “have much greater consequences for both consumers and industry than the payment provisions.” Under the current Rule, it is an unfair and abusive practice for a lender to make a covered short-term loan or a covered longer-term balloon payment loan without reasonably determining that the consumer has the ability to repay the loan (see the Buckley Sandler Special Alert for more detailed coverage on the Rule). The Bureau also intends to address the compliance date for the Rule, which is currently set at August 19, 2019.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Ability To Repay Payday Rule Installment Loans

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  • FDIC’s OIG Issues Evaluation of Agency’s Implementation of ATR/QM and Loan Originator Rules

    Federal Issues

    On December 6, the FDIC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an evaluation report to examine how the agency implements certain consumer protection rules concerning consumers’ ability to repay mortgage loans and limits for loan originator compensation. The OIG report, FDIC’s Implementation of Consumer Protection Rules Regarding Ability to Repay Mortgages and Compensation for Loan Originators (EVAL-18-001), focused on the FDIC’s Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection (DCP), which is responsible for implementing the Ability to Repay/Qualified Mortgage (ATR/QM) and Loan Originator rules and tracking violations of the rules. The report found that the DCP “incorporated these rules into its examination program, trained its examiners, and communicated regulatory changes to FDIC-supervised institutions.” However, based on a sample of 12 examinations, the OIG also determined that examination workpapers generally needed improvement, finding (i) inconsistent documentation by examiners on decisions to exclude compliance testing for the ATR/QM and Loan Originator rules, and (ii) in certain circumstances, incomplete, incorrect, or improperly stored examiners’ workpapers, “which would preclude someone independent of the examination team from fully understanding examination findings and conclusions, based on the workpapers alone.”

    OIG further noted that, because DCP’s examination practices did not include tracking the number of institutions subject to the rules or recording how frequently examiners tested for compliance, any identified variances among the FDIC’s six regional offices could not be assessed for significance due to lack of context.

    As a result of these findings, the OIG made several recommendations for the DCP to strengthen its compliance examination process, including:

    • “research potential reasons for the regional variances in the number of rule violations by banks in the FDIC’s six regional offices”;
    • “track the aggregate number of FDIC-supervised institutions in each region that are subject to the rules”;
    • “track how often examiners test for compliance with the rules”; and
    • ‘‘take steps to improve workpaper documentation and retention.”

    The DCP agreed to implement these recommendations June 30, 2018.

    Federal Issues OIG FDIC Ability To Repay Qualified Mortgage Consumer Finance Loan Origination Mortgages Examination

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  • CFPB Publishes Final Rule Amending Annual Dollar Threshold in TILA Regulations

    Lending

    On August 30, the CFPB issued a final rule amending Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act), the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994 (HOEPA), and the Dodd-Frank ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage provisions (ATR/QM). The CFPB is required to make adjustments to dollar amounts in the Regulation Z provisions implementing these laws based on the annual percentage change reflected in the Consumer Price Index effective June 1, 2017. For open-end consumer credit plans under TILA, the minimum interest charge disclosure threshold will remain unchanged at $1.00 in 2018. For open-end consumer credit plans under the CARD Act amendments, the adjusted dollar amount for the safe harbor for a first violation penalty fee will remain unchanged at $27 in 2018, and the adjusted dollar amount for the safe harbor for a subsequent violation penalty fee will remain unchanged at $38 in 2018. For HOEPA loans, the adjusted total loan amount threshold for high-cost mortgages in 2018 will increase to $21,032, and the adjusted points and fees dollar trigger for high-cost mortgages in 2018 will be $1,052. To satisfy the underwriting requirements under the ATR/QM rule, the maximum thresholds for total points and fees for qualified mortgages in 2018 will be: (i) 3 percent of the total loan amount for loans greater than or equal to $105,158; (ii) $3,155 for loan amounts greater than or equal to $63,095 but less than $105,158; (iii) 5 percent of the total loan amount for loans greater than or equal to $21,032 but less than $63,095; (iv) $1,052 for loan amounts greater than or equal to $13,145 but less than $21,032; and (v) 8 percent of the total loan amount for loan amounts less than $13,145. The final rule is effective January 1, 2018.

    Lending Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB TILA Credit Cards HOEPA Ability To Repay Qualified Mortgage Federal Register Regulation Z Mortgages

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  • CFPB Seeks Public Comment on its Plans for Assessing the Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule

    Consumer Finance

    On May 25, the CFPB issued a request for comment on its plans for assessing the 2014 Ability-to-Repay/Qualified Mortgage Rule’s effectiveness in meeting the purposes and objectives outlined in the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires the Bureau to assess each significant rule or order it adopts under Federal consumer financial laws. According to the request for comment, and a May 25 blog post on the CFPB’s website, the self-assessment will focus on objectives to ensure that: (i) consumers are provided with timely and understandable information to make responsible decisions about financial transactions; (ii) consumers are protected from unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices and from discrimination; (iii) outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations are regularly identified and addressed in order to reduce unwarranted regulatory burdens; (iv) federal consumer financial law is enforced consistently, without regard to the status of a person as a depository institution, in order to promote fair competition; and (v) markets for consumer financial products and services operate transparently and efficiently to facilitate access and innovation.

    The Dodd-Frank Act established new standards for mortgage lending and created a class of “qualified mortgage” (QM) loans. The standards required lenders to assess consumers’ ability to repay (ATR). Dodd-Frank also provided for a class of QM loans that must not have “certain risky product features and are presumed to comply with the ATR requirement.”

    The CFPB issued rules to make ATR and QM standards “clear and effective” in January 2013. As previously covered in a Special Alert, the rule and its amendments that took effect on January 10, 2014 provide a mechanism for curing point-and-fees overages on QM loans as well as more minor amendments to its mortgage origination and servicing rules.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Mortgages Dodd-Frank Ability To Repay

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  • DOJ Reduces Brazilian Construction Company Penalty Based on Inability to Pay

    Financial Crimes

    On April 11, the DOJ filed a memorandum in its case against a Brazilian construction company, requesting that the Court approve a lower sentence than originally proposed based on the company's inability to pay. On December 21, the company and its petrochemical affiliate reached a $4.5 billion combined global settlement with U.S., Brazilian, and Swiss authorities to resolve FCPA allegations, in which both companies agreed to plead guilty in the U.S. to conspiracy to violate the FCPA. As part of that agreement, the U.S. and Brazilian authorities agreed to conduct an independent analysis to confirm the accuracy of the construction company's representation that it had an inability to pay a penalty in excess of $2.6 billion. The memorandum set forth the DOJ’s determination that the construction company lacks the ability to pay a criminal penalty in excess of $2.6 billion and included adjustments for the requested penalty to match that ability. In particular, the portion of the penalty paid to the United States would be lowered from approximately $117 million to approximately $93 million. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 17.

    Prior Scorecard coverage of the company's settlement can be found here.

    Financial Crimes DOJ FCPA Ability To Repay

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  • Special Alert: Summary of CFPB's final prepaid rule

    Consumer Finance

    I. Overview of the CFPB's Final Prepaid Rule

    On October 5, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) issued a final rule (Prepaid Rule) amending Regulations E and Z to extend consumer protections to prepaid card accounts. The new protections include pre-acquisition disclosures, error resolution rights, and periodic statements. In addition, prepaid card accounts that include a separate credit feature are subject to some of Regulation Z’s credit card provisions, including an ability-to-repay requirement. Prepaid card issuers are also required to submit to the Bureau and to post to their websites any new and revised prepaid card account agreements. In this alert we summarize key provisions of the Prepaid Rule except those provisions that apply only to payroll and government benefits prepaid cards, which will be covered in a separate alert.

    II. Effective Date

    The Prepaid Rule’s effective date is October 1, 2017, however, the effective date for posting prepaid card account agreements is October 1, 2018. Heeding concerns about burden, the Bureau stated that the Prepaid Rule does not require financial institutions to pull and replace prepaid account access devices or packaging materials that were manufactured, printed, or otherwise produced in the normal course of business prior to October 1, 2017. Instead, financial institutions must provide consumers with notice of certain changes in terms and updated initial disclosures, in certain circumstances.

     

    Click here to read full Special Alert

     

    * * *

    Questions regarding the matters discussed in this Alert may be directed to any of our lawyers listed below, or to any other BuckleySandler attorney with whom you have consulted in the past.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Digital Commerce Prepaid Cards Special Alerts Payments Regulation Z Ability To Repay

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  • FDIC Releases Final Technical Assistance Video to Cover Mortgage Servicing Rules

    Lending

    On February 13, the FDIC released the third and final technical assistance video intended to assist bank employees to comply with certain mortgage rules issued by the CFPB. The final video addresses the Mortgage Servicing Rules and the “Small Servicer” exemption. The first video, released on November 19, 2014, covered the ATR/QM Rule, and the second video, released on January 27, covered the Loan Originator Compensation Rule.

    FDIC CFPB Dodd-Frank Mortgage Servicing Ability To Repay

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