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On November 3, the FDIC released the second volume of its recently-introduced Affordable Mortgage Lending Guide (Guide). The Guide is designed to help bankers learn about, and make comparisons of, available affordable mortgage-related programs, as well as their Community Reinvestment Act implications. This second installment of the Guide focuses on programs offered by and/or through state housing-related finance agencies across the country including, for instance, down payment and closing assistance, mortgage tax credit certificates, and homeownership education or counseling. The first volume in the series, released earlier this year, covered federal and GSE programs, and a third installment is expected to cover programs available through Federal Home Loan Banks.
In an opinion issued Thursday in Bartram v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, Nos. SC14-1265, SC14-1266, SC14-1305, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 16236 (Dist. Ct. App. Nov. 3, 2016), the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a mortgagee is not precluded by the five-year statute of limitations for filing a subsequent foreclosure action based on payment defaults occurring subsequent to the dismissal of the first foreclosure action, as long as the alleged subsequent default occurred within five years of the subsequent foreclosure action. In so holding, the Court affirmed the lower appellate court's decision and reinstated litigation.
The dispute in Bartram began with a 2006 foreclosure lawsuit against Bartram after he stopped making payments on his mortgage. In April 2011, with Bartram's suit still pending, his ex-wife filed a declaratory judgment action to quiet title to the property, naming her ex-husband, the bank and the homeowners’ association as defendants. When the original foreclosure suit against Bartram was dismissed on procedural grounds one month later, he sought declaratory judgment that the 5-year statute of limitations had passed. Specifically, he argued that the limitations period began to run when he defaulted in January 2006 and the bank accelerated the loan. Although the trial court sided with Bartram, the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed the ruling and certified the question to the Florida Supreme Court. Florida’s high court narrowly construed the question, framing the issue as: “Does acceleration of payments due under a residential note and mortgage with a reinstatement provision in a foreclosure action that was dismissed . . . trigger application of the statute of limitations to prevent a subsequent foreclosure action by the mortgage based on payment defaults occurring subsequent to dismissal of the first foreclosure suit?” As noted above, the Florida Supreme Court held it does not.
CFPB Issues Warning Letters to 44 Mortgage Lenders and Brokers for Potential HMDA Reporting Failures
On October 27, the CFPB issued warning letters to 44 mortgage lenders and mortgage brokers informing them that they may not be in compliance with certain provisions of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) and Regulation C. The warning letters state that the recipients may be required to collect, record, and report housing-related lending data, and that they may be violating those requirements. Under HMDA, financial institutions that meet certain criteria are required to collect and report data related to their housing-related activity, including home purchase loans, home improvement loans, and refinancings they originate or purchase, or for which the institutions receive applications. The letters recite HMDA’s coverage criteria for lenders who are not banks, credit unions, or savings associations, suggesting that the CFPB is particularly concerned about HMDA compliance for non-depository mortgage lenders. While the letters state that the CFPB has not made any determinations that the recipients are in violation of HMDA filing requirements, the letters urge recipients to review their practices to ensure compliance with the relevant laws, and encourage recipients to advise the CFPB if the institution has taken steps or will take steps to ensure compliance. The letters advise recipients of the CFPB’s authority to impose civil money penalties for noncompliance with HMDA. In October 2013, the CFPB fined a bank and a nonbank mortgage lender for filing inaccurate HMDA data. In October 2015, the CFPB finalized a rule amending the HMDA reporting requirements under Regulation C, with the majority of the provisions taking effect on January 1, 2018.
Last week, the CFPB’s final rule amending the mortgage servicing provisions of Regulations X and Z was published in the Federal Register. The amendments were previously covered in BuckleySandler’s August 9 Special Alert. The majority of the final rule will take effect on October 19, 2017, exactly one year after its Federal Register publication date. Certain provisions related to successors in interest and bankruptcy periodic statements will become effective on April 19, 2018. The CFPB’s interpretive rule under the FDCPA addressing industry concerns and conflicts with the servicing rules in Regulations X and Z was simultaneously published in the Federal Register on October 19, 2016.
On October 26, the FHA released Mortgagee Letter 2016-15 announcing its decision to lower the owner-occupancy requirement on condominiums to as low as 35 percent. The letter follows a September announcement in which the FHA stated that, pursuant to the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act of 2016, or H.R. 3700, it was required to “issue guidance regarding the percentage of units within an approved condominium development that must be owner occupied.” The guidance outlined in Mortgagee Letter 2016-15 is “effective immediately for all condominium project approval applications, recertification applications, annexation applications or reconsideration applications submitted for review.”
On October 14, the HUD Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) published a report on HUD’s monitoring and payment of conveyance claims upon termination of FHA-insured mortgages. According to the report, mortgage servicers’ failure to foreclose on properties or meet conveyance deadlines may have cost the FHA an estimated $2.23 billion in unreasonable and unnecessary holding costs. HUD-OIG concluded that deficiencies in 24 CFR Part 203 did not “enable HUD to provide effective oversight and HUD monitored only a small percentage of servicers after the claim had been paid.” As a result of its findings, HUD-OIG recommended that HUD (i) amend 24 CFR Part 203 to include “a maximum period for filing insurance claims and disallowance of expenses incurred beyond established timelines”; (ii) develop an IT plan that that ensures significant operational changes to how HUD monitors single-family conveyance claims; and (iii) establish and implement controls to identify noncompliance with 24 CFR 203.402.
On October 18, the American Banking Association (ABA) and Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) submitted a joint comment letter responding to a recent proposal by the CFPB seeking to codify informal guidance and clarifications to the Know Before Your Owe TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule. Of particular concern among lenders and investors was the lack of clarity about liability for unintentional mistakes and technical noncompliance with TRID. To help address these concerns, the Associations urged the CFPB to, among other things, (i) publish the specific statutory provisions it relied upon for each disclosure item or requirement identified in the recent proposal; (ii) grant a “safe harbor” for model forms issued by the bureau; (iii) grant an extension of the “good faith” compliance examination policy pending the CFPB’s proscribed deadlines for the proposed rules; and (iv) develop a formal process to address ongoing compliance and legal issues related to TRID.
The Associations also expressed appreciation for “the numerous amendments offered in th[e] proposal,” including those allowing corrected closing disclosures to reset applicable good faith tolerances for creditors. The Associations further explained that their “preliminary analysis reflects that this proposed rule will resolve multiple ambiguities that banks deem significant” and “urged that the bureau . . . allow for the correction of previous non-compliance caused by the interpretive ambiguity that the bureau is now fixing” (emphasis added).
On October 12, the CFPB issued an updated version of its small entity compliance guide on the Know Before You Owe TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) Rule. The updated TRID compliance guide incorporates guidance from CFPB webinars on various topics, including (i) record retention; (ii) Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure requirements, including format and delivery; (iii) good faith standards and determinations; (iv) disclosures related to seller-paid costs; and (v) construction loans. The newly released TRID compliance guide replaces the CFPB’s July 2015 guide. The CFPB also issued a separate revised guide for completing the Loan Estimate and Disclosure forms.
Special Alert: D.C. Circuit Panel Rejects CFPB's RESPA Interpretation and Alters its Structure in PHH Corp. v. CFPB
On October 11, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion vacating a $109 million penalty imposed on PHH Corporation under the anti-kickback provisions of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), concluding that the CFPB misinterpreted the statute and violated due process by reversing the interpretation of the prior regulator and applying its own interpretation retroactively. Furthermore, the panel rejected the CFPB’s contention that no statute of limitations applied to its administrative actions and concluded that RESPA’s three-year statute of limitations applied to any actions brought under RESPA.
In addition, a majority of the panel held that the CFPB’s status as an independent agency headed by a single Director violates the separation of powers under Article II of the U.S. Constitution. However, rather than shutting down the CFPB and voiding all of its regulations and prior actions, the majority chose to remedy the defect by making the CFPB’s Director subject to removal at will by the President. In effect, this makes the CFPB an executive agency (like the Department of the Treasury) rather than, as envisioned by the Dodd-Frank Act, an independent agency (like the Federal Trade Commission). (One member of the panel, Judge Henderson, dissented from this portion of the opinion on the grounds that it was not necessary to reach the constitutional issue because the panel was already reversing the CFPB’s interpretation of RESPA.)
The panel remanded the case to the CFPB to determine whether, within the three-year statute of limitations, the payments to PHH’s affiliate exceeded the fair market value of the services provided in violation of RESPA. The CFPB is expected to petition for en banc reconsideration by the full D.C. Circuit or to seek direct review by the United States Supreme Court. Therefore, final resolution of this matter may be delayed by a year or more.
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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.
- Jeremiah S. Buckley, (202) 349-8010
- Joseph M. Kolar, (202) 349-8020
- John P. Kromer, (202) 349-8040
- Jon David D. Langlois, (202) 349-8045
- Jeffrey P. Naimon, (202) 349-8030
- Matthew P. Previn, (212) 600-2310
- Clinton R. Rockwell, (310) 424-3901
- Michelle L. Rogers, (202) 349-8013
- Sasha Leonhardt, (202) 349-7971
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk, (310) 424-3917
- Steven vonBerg, (202) 524-7893
On September 29, the CFPB published an Approval Action in the Federal Register that provides a safe harbor under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) and Regulation B for lenders who use the revised Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) form issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in August 2016. The Bureau’s Approval Action states that it has “determined that the relevant language in the 2016 URLA is in compliance with” Regulation B’s requirements for whether, and how, a creditor may seek information about an applicant’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, and income sources, and information about an applicant’s spouse or former spouse.
The Bureau’s Approval Action also offers flexibility for lenders who must collect and report information about mortgage applicants’ ethnicity and race under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), implemented by Regulation C. On October 28, 2015, the Bureau amended Regulation C to require covered lenders to offer applicants the opportunity to self-identify using disaggregated categories of ethnicity and race, effective January 1, 2018. The CFPB notes in the Federal Register notice that before January 1, 2108, asking applicants to self-identify using the disaggregated categories would not have been allowed under Regulation B’s restrictions on seeking information about an applicant’s ethnicity, race and other characteristics. The Approval Action gives lenders the option of using the disaggregated categories of ethnicity and race for applications taken in 2017 without violating Regulation B. It states that if a lender opts to collect information using the disaggregated categories in 2017, for applications that see final action before January 1, 2018, the lender must report the data to the Bureau using only the current aggregate categories for ethnicity and race. If a lender takes final action in 2018 or later on an application received in 2017, it may choose to report the data using either the current aggregate or the new disaggregated categories.
- APPROVED Webcast: CFL license transition to NMLS
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Justice for all: Achieving racial equity through fair lending” at CBA Live
- Warren W. Traiger to discuss “On the horizon for CRA modernization” at CBA Live
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Government investigations, and compliance 2021 trends” at the Corporate Counsel Women of Color Career Strategies Conference
- Max Bonici to discuss “BSA/AML trends: What to expect with the implementation of the AML Act of 2020” at the American Bar Association Banking Law Fall Meeting