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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • Hawaii approves temporary authority to act as a registered mortgage loan originator

    On June 7, the Hawaii governor signed HB 988, which provides 120-day temporary authority for certain mortgage loan originators to originate loans in Hawaii without a state license. Pursuant to Section 106 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the bill allows a federally-registered mortgage loan originator (MLO) holding an MLO license in another state while employed by a Hawaii-licensed mortgage company, to have temporary authority to act as a state-licensed MLO for a period not to exceed 120 days while the MLO’s Hawaii license application is pending. MLOs with temporary authority are subject to the applicable laws of Hawaii to the same extent as persons licensed by Hawaii. The bill is effective on November 24.

    Licensing State Issues State Legislation Mortgage Licensing EGRRCPA Mortgage Origination

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  • CFPB issues latest fair lending report to Congress

    Federal Issues

    On June 28, the CFPB issued its seventh fair lending report to Congress, which outlines the Bureau’s efforts in 2018 to fulfill its fair lending mandate. According to the report, in 2018, the Bureau continued to focus on promoting fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory access to credit, highlighting several fair lending priorities that continued from years past such as mortgage origination, mortgage servicing, and small business lending. The Bureau also noted two new focus areas for fair lending examinations or investigations: (i) student loan origination, specifically, whether there is discrimination in underwriting and pricing; and (ii) debt collection and model use, specifically, whether there is discrimination in governing auto servicing and credit card collections, including the use of models that predict recovery outcomes. Additionally, the report highlighted several other Bureau activities from 2018, including, among other things (i) issuing guidance to facilitate the implementation of the August 2018 HMDA final rule (covered by InfoBytes here); and (ii) recommending supervisory reviews of third-party credit scoring models, noting that the “use of alternative data and modeling techniques may expand access to credit or lower credit cost and, at the same time, present fair lending risks.”

    Federal Issues Fair Lending CFPB Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing Small Business Lending Student Lending Debt Collection Alternative Data

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  • Minnesota adds mortgage originator licensing exemption

    State Issues

    On May 22, the Minnesota governor signed HF 990, which exempts manufactured home dealers and salespersons from the state’s licensing requirements for residential mortgage originators. Under the bill, manufactured home dealers or salespersons qualify for the exemption if they (i) perform only clerical or support duties in connection with assisting a consumer in filling out a loan application; (ii) do not receive any direct or indirect compensation from any individual or company, in excess of the customary salary or commission, for assisting consumers with loan applications; and (iii) provide specified disclosures. The bill takes effect on August 1.

    State Issues State Legislation Licensing Mortgages Mortgage Origination

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  • Illinois amends Residential Mortgage License Act

    State Issues

    On May 10, the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State published in the Illinois Register a notice by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation of adopted amendments to certain parts of its Residential Mortgage License Act. In general, the amendments impact independent loan processor licensing as well as residential mortgage loan bond and advertising requirements. Specifically, an independent loan processing entity must employ one or more licensed mortgage loan originators (MLO) to be in compliance with the Act’s supervision and instruction requirements. In addition, any advertisement appearing in the state by a licensee concerning residential mortgage loans must clearly and conspicuously include the following: (i) the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) Consumer Access homepage; and (ii) a licensee’s unique NMLS identifier. If a MLO is advertised, licensees are also required to include the MLO employee’s individual NMLS unique identifier, in addition to listing the licensee’s NMLS unique identifier. Furthermore, licensees are prohibited from including a NMLS unique identifier in any advertisement related to “activities other than residential mortgage lending or brokering” unless certain criteria are met. The amendments became effective immediately.

    State Issues State Legislation Mortgages Licensing Mortgage Origination NMLS

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  • Georgia amends mortgage lender licensing laws

    State Issues

    On May 7, the Georgia governor signed HB 185, which amends various state laws related to financial institutions, including the licensing requirements for mortgage lenders and mortgage loan originators. The bill specifies that any licensed mortgage lender is authorized to engage in all activities that are authorized for a mortgage broker and therefore, is not required to obtain a mortgage broker license. Additionally, the bill specifies that a mortgage loan originator license shall become inactive in the event that a mortgage loan originator is no longer sponsored by a mortgage lender or mortgage broker that is licensed. The bill becomes effective July 1.

    State Issues Mortgage Licensing Licensing Mortgages Mortgage Origination State Legislation

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  • NMLS issues “temporary authority” licensing guidelines for MLOs

    Federal Issues

    On April 4, the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) issued a set of guidelines and FAQs clarifying federal SAFE Act amendments created by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the Act), to establish “temporary authority” provisions for mortgage loan originators (MLOs). According to the guidelines, temporary authority to act as a loan originator while completing state-specific licensing requirements is granted to: (i) qualified MLOs who are changing employment from a depository institution to a state-licensed mortgage company; and (ii) qualified state-licensed MLOs seeking to be licensed in another state. The guidance expands upon temporary authority eligibility requirements; disqualification criteria; and the length of time MLOs may operate under temporary authority.

    The guidelines also emphasize that “any MLO operating under temporary authority is subject to the requirements of the federal SAFE Act, and all applicable laws of the application state, to the same extent as if that MLO was a state-licensed loan originator licensed by the state.” MLOs will be able to apply for a license and become eligible for temporary authority on November 24.

    Federal Issues NMLS Licensing Mortgage Origination EGRRCPA SAFE Act

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  • New Mexico amends financial lending licensing requirements

    State Issues

    On April 2, the New Mexico governor signed HB 584, which amends the Collection Agency Regulatory Act and the Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act to, among other things, require sales finance companies obtain a license to conduct business in the state. The bill outlines licensing requirements for such companies. State and national banks authorized to do business in the state are not required to obtain a license under the Motor Vehicle Sales Finance Act, “but shall comply with all of its other provisions.” Under HB 584, the Director of the Financial Institutions Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department may utilize the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) or other entities designated by the NMLS in order to receive and process licensing applications. The Director is also granted the authority to issue and deny licenses.

    HB 584 also amends definitions used within the state’s Mortgage Loan Originator Licensing Act, and outlines provisions related to (i) licensing, registration, renewal, and testing requirements; (ii) certain exemptions; (iii) the issuance of temporary licenses to out-of-state mortgage loan originators who are both licensed through the NMLS and complete the mandatory education and testing requirements; and (iv) continuing education requirements. HB 584 also grants the Director the authority to establish rules for licensing challenges; “deny, suspend, revoke or decline to renew a licenses for a violation of the New Mexico Mortgage Loan Originator Licensing Act”; and impose civil penalties for violations.

    Furthermore, HB 584 also amends the definitions used within the state’s Uniform Money Services Act and the Collection Agency Regulatory Act by listing licensing application requirements, and granting the Director the same authorities provided above.

    The amendments take effect July 1, 2019.

    State Issues State Legislation Consumer Lending Licensing Auto Finance Mortgages Mortgage Origination Money Service / Money Transmitters Debt Collection NMLS

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  • Montana adds capital and net worth requirements for mortgage servicers and originators

    State Issues

    On March 19, the Montana governor signed HB 107, which amends the Montana Mortgage Act to, among other things, add capital requirements for mortgage servicers and net worth requirements for mortgage originators licensed in the state. The bill provides that a failure to meet or maintain the outlined standards could result in a license application denial or the suspension or revocation of a current license. Additionally, the bill adds a definition for mortgage “servicer providers” and authorizes the banking division of the Montana Department of Administration to adopt rules to (i) define false, deceptive, or misleading advertising; and (ii) establish requirements for licensee advertising using the internet. The bill is effective October 1.

    State Issues Licensing Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing Mortgages State Legislation

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  • District Court: Bank originating mortgage loans is not a debt collector under FDCPA

    Courts

    On January 23, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida dismissed a putative class action suit, ruling that a national bank did not qualify as a debt collector under the FDCPA. According to the order, the three plaintiffs defaulted on loans that were originated (or acquired via merger) by the bank. The loans were ultimately satisfied by the proceeds of related short sales of the plaintiffs’ homes. Following the satisfaction of the loans, the bank sent the plaintiffs letters that stated it would not report any negative information regarding the plaintiffs’ loans to the credit bureaus or charge any late fees for a period of 90 days due to the plaintiffs’ residences being located in a FEMA-declared disaster area. The plaintiffs alleged that these letters violated the FDCPA and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) because the bank “systematically misrepresent[ed] the status” of the plaintiffs’ satisfied loans as well as the plaintiffs’ “obligations under the loans.” The bank moved to dismiss arguing, among other things, that the FDCPA claims should be dismissed because the bank—as originator and owner of the loans—is not a debt collector under the FDCPA, and the complaint failed to contain any allegations supporting the assertion that the bank’s principal purpose as a business is the collection of debts. Moreover, the bank argued that the letters were sent purely for informational purposes, and as such, did not constitute an attempt to collect a debt under the FDCPA or FCCPA.

    The court agreed with the bank, finding that the bank was “exempt from the definition of a debt collector” due to its status as the originator of the loans, and dismissed the FDCPA claims with prejudice. The court also dismissed plaintiffs’ FCCPA claims, finding that it lacked original jurisdiction over these claims because the plaintiffs failed to file a motion for class certification within 90 days of filing the complaint, as required under local rules.

    Courts Mortgage Origination Debt Collection FDCPA State Issues

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  • Fannie Mae issues guidance on impact of government shutdown

    Federal Issues

    On December 26, Fannie Mae issued temporary guidance relating to loan origination and loan servicing during the government shut down. According to LL-2018-06, loans are not rendered ineligible for purchase solely because a borrower’s employment is directly impacted by the shutdown. However, the lender must still be able to obtain a verbal verification of employment prior to the time of loan delivery in order for the loan to be eligible for sale to Fannie Mae. For military borrowers, the lender can use a Leave and Earnings Statement dated within 30 calendar days prior to the note date in lieu of a verbal verification. Additionally, among other things, if a borrower is furloughed on or after closing, the loan remains eligible for sale to Fannie so long as the lender has obtained all required documentation, including the verbal verification.

    The guidance also addresses government verifications of certain information. For IRS transcripts, Fannie Mae notes that Desktop Underwriter will continue to process tax transcript verification reports received prior to the shutdown, but will not able to access new verification reports for validation. As a result, requests for verification reports may remain in pending status until normal government operations resume. Further, Fannie Mae is temporarily allowing lenders to obtain verification of a borrower’s social security number, if needed, prior to the delivery of the loan. If the number cannot be verified prior to delivery, however, the loan will not be eligible for sale. With respect to flood insurance, Fannie Mae advises that it will purchase loans secured by properties located in Special Flood Hazard Areas so long as the loans meet certain conditions, including proof the borrower has completed an application for the insurance and paid the initial premium. Lenders are obligated to have a process in place to identify any mortgaged properties that do not have proper evidence of active flood insurance, or where an increase in coverage or renewal of existing policies would have occurred during the shutdown, and to make sure coverage is obtained once the shutdown ends. Finally, with respect to loan servicing, servicers are authorized to offer forbearance plans to assist borrowers who cannot make their regular monthly payment as a result of the shutdown

    Fannie Mae notes that additional guidance will be released if the shutdown lasts “for a prolonged period.”

    Federal Issues Fannie Mae Mortgages Lending Mortgage Origination Shutdown Relief

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