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On June 17, President Biden signed S. 475 establishing June 19, Juneteenth, as a federal holiday. The “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act” amends 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a) which codifies the legal public holidays. Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the holiday will be observed on Friday, June 18.
The establishment of a new federal holiday mere hours before the first observance of that holiday poses novel compliance challenges for the mortgage industry. Notably, both TRID and TILA rescission requirements have important timing standards that reference federal holidays.
Under TRID, the Loan Estimate must be provided to the consumer at least seven business days prior to consummation, and the Closing Disclosure must be provided to the consumer at least three business days prior to consummation. For purposes of these requirements, “business day” is defined as “all calendar days except Sundays and legal public holidays” as specified in 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a). As the holiday occurs on a Saturday this year, Saturday, June 19 is not a “business day” for purposes of calculating either the 7-business day waiting period after delivery of the Loan Estimate or the 3-business-day waiting period after delivery of the Closing Disclosure. Commentary to Regulation Z also states that, for purposes of rescission and the provision of mortgage disclosures, when a federal holiday falls on a Saturday but is observed on the preceding Friday, the observed holiday is a business day.
Accordingly, for purposes of providing the Loan Estimate at least seven business days prior to closing and the Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing, lenders may not count Saturday, June 19, as a business day, but must count Friday, June 18, as a business day. Absent clarification from the CFPB, lenders are advised to push closings back one day where they were previously counting Saturday (June 19) as a business day. For example, if a Closing Disclosure was received by the consumer on Thursday, June 17, closing may not occur until Tuesday, June 22.
A rescission period expires on midnight on the third business day after closing and uses the same definition of business days, which is “all calendar days except Sundays and legal public holidays.” As such, Saturday, June 19 this year is not a “business day” for purposes of the 3-business day rescission period and lenders should ensure that consumers are provided an extra day where the rescission period encompasses June 19, and are made aware of that extension. This raises unique funding and Notice of Right to Cancel disclosure related questions, the answers to which may depend on individual facts and circumstances. Absent further guidance from the CFPB, creditors may wish to delay closing by one day for those transactions where the three-day Closing Disclosure period is relevant, as well as consider providing updated Notices of Right to Cancel with a new rescission period taking into account both the new public holiday and when such new notice is sent.
On June 18, CFPB acting Director Dave Uejio issued a statement recognizing that "some lenders did not have sufficient time after the Federal holiday declaration to consider whether and how to adjust closing timelines" and that "some lenders may delay closings to accommodate the reissuance of disclosures adjusted for the new Federal holiday." Uejio further noted that "TILA and TRID requirements generally protect creditors from liability for bona fide errors and permit redisclosure after closing to correct errors." He added that any guidance ultimately issued by the Bureau "would take into account the limited implementation period before the holiday and would be issued after consultation with the other FIRREA regulators and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors to ensure consistency of interpretation for all regulated entities."
On June 16, the FDIC’s technology lab, FDiTech, announced a tech sprint, which challenges participants to “explore new technologies and techniques that would help expand the capabilities of banks to meet the needs of unbanked individuals and households.” The tech sprint, Breaking Down Barriers: Reaching the Last Mile of Unbanked U.S. Households, invites banks, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, private sector companies, and others to identify data, tools, and other resources that may assist community banks meet the needs of the underbanked in a cost-effective manner. According to the FDIC, a recently published survey found that more than seven million U.S. households were unbanked with Black, Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native households having a higher likelihood of being unbanked. Registration will be required for stakeholders to participate, and additional information on how to participate is expected on the FDiTech website in early July.
Last month, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) published proposed regulations in the state register to implement the Illinois Predatory Loan Prevention Act (Act). As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Act was signed into law in March and prohibits lenders from charging more than 36 percent APR on all non-commercial consumer loans under $40,000, including closed-end and open-end credit, retail installment sales contracts, and motor vehicle retail installment sales contracts. Violations of the Act constitute a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and carry a potential fine up to $10,000. Additionally, any loan with an APR exceeding 36 percent will be considered null and void “and no person or entity shall have any right to collect, attempt to collect, receive, or retain any principal, fee, interest, or charges related to the loan.”
The IDFPR’s notice of proposed rules provides definitions and loan terms, including (i) general conditions; (ii) limits on the cost of a loan; (iii) how to calculate and compute the APR for the purposes of the Act; (iv) how to determine bona fide fees charged on credit card accounts, including outlining ineligible items, providing standards for assessing whether a bona fide fee is reasonable, and specifying bona fide fee safe harbors and “[i]ndicia of reasonableness for a participation fee”; and (iii) the effect of charging fees on bona fide fees.
Additionally, the IDFPR proposes several amendments related to rate cap disclosure notices. These specify that (i) all loan applications must include a separate rate cap disclosure signed by the consumer (disclosures must be provided in English and in the language in which the loan was negotiated); (ii) lenders must “prominently display” a rate cap disclosure in both English and Spanish in any physical location and on all websites, mobile device applications, or any other electronic mediums owned or maintained by the lender; and (iii) lenders must disclose the rate cap in any written loan solicitations or advertisements.
On May 30, the Maryland governor signed HB 1213, which requires “certain credit grantors to adhere to certain rules concerning evaluations of applications and, under certain circumstances, consider alternative methods of evaluating an applicant’s creditworthiness when evaluating an application for a primary residential mortgage loan or an extension of credit.” Under HB 1213, an entity must, among other things: (i) adhere to the rules concerning evaluations of applications including history of rent or mortgage payments and utility payments, school attendance, and work attendance; and (ii) consider other verifiable alternative indications of creditworthiness if requested by the applicant. The law is effective October 1.
On June 15, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered a stipulated final judgment and order against one of the defendants in an action brought by the CFPB, the Minnesota and North Carolina attorneys general, and the Los Angeles City Attorney in 2019, which alleged a student loan debt relief operation deceived thousands of student-loan borrowers and charged more than $71 million in unlawful advance fees. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the complaint alleged that the defendants violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act, the Telemarketing Sales Rule, and various state laws by charging and collecting improper advance fees from student loan borrowers prior to providing assistance and receiving payments on the adjusted loans. In addition, the complaint asserts the defendants engaged in deceptive practices by misrepresenting (i) the purpose and application of fees they charged; (ii) their ability to obtain loan forgiveness; and (iii) their ability to actually lower borrowers’ monthly payments.
The finalized settlement issued against the relief defendant—who acted in an individual capacity and also as trustee of a trust, and who neither admits nor denies the allegations—requires the liquidation of certain assets up to but not exceeding $3 million as monetary relief to go to the CFPB and the People of the State of California. If the liquidation value of the asset is less than $3 million, the relief defendant “will be additionally liable for the difference between the liquidation value of the [asset] and $3,000,000, up to but not exceeding $500,000.” The relief defendant is also liable to all plaintiffs for $88,381.80. In addition, the relief defendant must comply with certain reporting and recordkeeping requirements and fully cooperate with the plaintiffs.
The court previously entered final judgments against four of the defendants, as well as a default judgment and order against two other defendants (covered by InfoBytes here and here). Orders have yet to be entered against the remaining defendants.
On June 15, OCC acting Comptroller Michael J. Hsu delivered remarks during the CFPB’s Virtual Home Appraisal Bias Event to raise awareness on the importance of reducing bias in real estate appraisals. The event included discussions with civil rights organizations, housing policy experts, and other federal agencies on how bias can occur in real estate appraisals and automated valuation models. Biased appraisals, Hsu noted, have a large impact on lending and contribute to inequity in housing values. He pointed to data from studies showing that homes in Black neighborhoods are valued at approximately half the price as homes in neighborhoods with few or no Black residents. This difference has created a $156 billion cumulative loss in value across the country for majority-Black neighborhoods, Hsu stated. He further emphasized that “[w]hile appraisers and the appraisal process are not often seen as parts of the banking system, there are clear intersections. Banking regulations require appraisals on certain transactions, and banks rely on third-party appraisals in their underwriting and overall risk management practices. Regulators, including the OCC, expect banks to ensure their vendors treat customers fairly and do not discriminate, and we are seeing banks held accountable for discrimination in appraisals they use.” Hsu added that holding banks accountable, while necessary, is not enough to solve the problem of biased appraisals, and that a solution will require collaboration between all stakeholders, including the attendees participating in the Bureau’s event.
On June 14, the CFPB released a report analyzing differences in certain loan and borrower characteristics and general lending patterns for lenders below and above the 100-loan closed-end threshold set by the 2020 HMDA final rule. As previously covered by InfoBytes, last year the Bureau issued a final rule permanently raising coverage thresholds for collecting and reporting data about closed-end mortgage loans under HMDA from 25 to 100 loans.
While the Bureau notes that the “analysis is necessarily limited and preliminary,” the report’s findings, which analyzed publicly available HMDA data from 2019 for which the 25-loan threshold still applied, show, among other things, that (i) lenders that are exempt under the 2020 final rule (those whose origination volume exceeds the 25-loan threshold but falls below the 100-loan threshold) “do not appear to be more likely to lend to Black and non-White Hispanic borrowers than larger volume lenders”; (ii) these lenders may be more likely to lend to non-natural person borrowers such as trusts, partnerships, and corporations; (iii) a higher percentage of these loans are secured by properties in low-to-moderate income (LMI) census tracts, properties in rural areas, second liens, and investment properties; (iv) these lenders tend to make more loans to borrowers who appear to have higher income levels than large lenders’ borrowers; and (v) a slightly higher percentage of loans made by these lenders are secured by manufactured homes than by lenders with origination volumes over 300. According to the Bureau’s blog post, the “findings are consistent with a possible explanation that lenders below the 2020 rule’s 100-loan closed-end threshold are making more loans to investors buying up property in [LMI] census tracts for rental or resale.”
On June 10, the FDIC issued FIL-40-2021 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of Louisiana affected by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding. The FDIC acknowledged the unusual circumstances faced by institutions affected by the storms and suggested that institutions work with impacted borrowers to, among other things, (i) extend repayment terms; (ii) restructure existing loans; or (iii) ease terms for new loans to those affected by the severe weather, provided the measures are done “in a manner consistent with sound banking practices.” Additionally, the FDIC noted that institutions “may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery.” The FDIC further stated that it will also consider regulatory relief from certain filing and publishing requirements.
On June 8, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama granted a defendant auto finance company’s motion for judgment on the pleadings in an action concerning alleged violations of the FCRA. The plaintiff filed an action against the defendants (an auto finance company and a financial service company) alleging that her credit report included an inaccurate or misleading “Errant Tradeline” in violation of the FCRA because it identified a paid off loan as being “closed” with a “$0 balance,” but also indicated that the loan had a monthly payment amount of $669. The plaintiff argued that this created “the impression that she still ha[d] an outstanding loan” as well as upcoming payments and alleged that the inaccurate reporting caused her financial and emotional damages. The plaintiff also claimed that the auto finance company negligently or willfully violated the FCRA because it failed to conduct a proper investigation. Upon review, the court granted the motion by the auto finance company, finding that because the balance listed says “$0,” and the account is listed as “closed,” there is “little opportunity for confusion when the alleged Errant Tradeline is reviewed in context.” The court further noted that “the context of the report reveals that the monthly payment line is neither inaccurate nor misleading.”
On June 8, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California preliminarily approved a class action settlement, resolving allegations that a national bank failed to properly refund payments made pursuant to guaranteed asset protection waiver (GAP Waiver) agreements entered into in connection with auto loans. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the plaintiffs claimed that the bank knowingly collected unearned fees for GAP Waivers and allegedly “concealed its obligation” to issue refunds on GAP Waiver fees for the portion of the GAP Waiver’s initial coverage that was cut short by early payoff. The bank sought dismissal of the suit, arguing, among other things, that—with the exception of one consumer’s claims—all of the plaintiffs’ contracts include “a condition precedent under which the [p]laintiffs must first submit a written refund request for unearned GAP fees before being entitled to a refund,” a condition, the bank argued, which was not fulfilled. The court dismissed breach of contract claims brought by the majority of the plaintiffs, noting that most of the plaintiffs were not excused from complying with the condition precedent in their contracts with the bank. The court did, however, allow claims filed by plaintiffs whose contracts did not contain condition precedent language to proceed.
Under the terms of the preliminary settlement reached between the parties, beginning in 2022 and continuing for four years, the bank is obligated to automatically refund unearned GAP fees to consumers who pay off their auto loans early, and will pay refunds along with compensation for the loss of the use of the funds to class members who have not yet received such payment. The bank will also add $45 million in a “supplemental” settlement fund to cover refunds, additional compensation payments, and other settlement-related costs and expenses. This amount is in addition to the more than $33 million in refunds the bank has already issued. The bank did not admit any wrongdoing and maintained that it did not breach the terms of any GAP agreements or otherwise fail to pay early payoff GAP refunds.
- 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