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On September 18, the FDIC issued FIL-91-2020 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of Oregon affected by wildfires that began on September 7. In the guidance, the FDIC writes that, in supervising institutions affected by the wildfires, it will consider the unusual circumstances those institutions face. The guidance suggests 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 notes that institutions may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery. The FDIC will also consider relief from certain reporting and publishing requirements.
Separately, on September 17, HUD announced disaster assistance available to certain counties impacted by the Oregon wildfires, providing foreclosure relief and other assistance to affected homeowners. Specifically, HUD is providing an automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages for covered properties and is making FHA insurance available to those victims whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged. Additionally, HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program will allow individuals who have lost homes to finance the purchase of a house, or refinance an existing house and the costs of repair, through a single mortgage. The program will also allow homeowners with damaged property to finance the rehabilitation of existing single-family homes.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development earlier this month issued a final disparate impact regulation under the Fair Housing Act (Final Rule). HUD’s new Final Rule is intended to align its disparate impact regulation, adopted in 2013 (2013 Rule), with the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. (Inclusive Communities). While the new Final Rule is a notable development, the relatively recent Supreme Court decision makes it unclear to what extent courts and federal agencies will look to the rule for guidance.
On September 4, HUD released the final rule amending agency’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard (also known as the “2013 Disparate Impact Regulation”). The final rule, among other things, seeks to (i) codify the burden-shifting framework from the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. (covered by a Buckley Special Alert); (ii) create a uniform standard for determining when a policy or practice has a discriminatory effect in violation of the Fair Housing Act; and (iii) codify HUD’s position that its rule is not intended to infringe on the states’ regulation of insurance. Based on public feedback, the final rule largely adopts the August 2019 proposed rule (covered by InfoBytes here) with a number of clarifying and substantive changes.
A Special Alert from Buckley on the details of the final rule will soon be available.
On September 1, the Federal Reserve Board, OCC, FDIC, NCUA, and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) issued a joint statement covering supervisory practices for financial institutions affected by Hurricane Laura and the California wildfires. Among other things, the agencies called on financial institutions to “work constructively” with affected borrowers, noting that “prudent efforts” to adjust loan terms in affected areas “should not be subject to examiner criticism.” Institutions facing difficulties in complying with any publishing and reporting requirements should contact their primary federal and/or state regulator. Additionally, the agencies noted that institutions may receive Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services that revitalize or stabilize federally designated disaster areas.
Additionally, HUD announced it will make disaster assistance available to Louisiana, which will provide foreclosure relief and other assistance to homeowners living in parishes affected by Hurricane Laura. Specifically, HUD is providing an automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages for covered properties and is making FHA insurance available to those victims whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged. Additionally, HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program will allow individuals who have lost homes to finance the purchase of a house, or refinance an existing house along with the costs of repair, through a single mortgage. The program will also allow homeowners with damaged property to finance the rehabilitation of existing single-family homes.
On August 26, the FDIC issued FIL-81-2020 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and help facilitate recovery in areas of Iowa affected by severe storms. In the guidance, the FDIC notes that, in supervising institutions affected by the severe weather, the FDIC will consider the unusual circumstances those institutions face. The guidance suggests 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, can contribute to the health of the local community and serve the long-term interests of the lending institution.” Additionally, the FDIC notes that institutions may receive Community Reinvestment Act consideration for community development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery. The FDIC states it will also consider relief from certain filing and publishing requirements.
Separately, on August 25, HUD announced it will expedite disaster assistance to certain counties impacted by the California wildfires, which will provide foreclosure relief and other assistance to homeowners living in the counties. Specifically, HUD is providing an automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages for covered properties and is further making FHA insurance available to those victims whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged. Additionally, HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program will allow victims to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with the costs of repair through a single mortgage, and will also allow homeowners with damaged property to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family homes.
Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief guidance here.
HUD issues mortgagee letter extending interim procedures relating to FHA Section 232 approved mortgages
On July 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued Mortgagee Letter 2020-25, which extends interim procedures regarding site access issues related to Section 232 mortgage insurance applications during the Covid-19 pandemic (previously covered here). The guidance provides temporary modifications pertaining to third-party site inspections for Section 232 FHA-insured healthcare facilities with effective dates within 60 days of the issuance of the mortgagee letter. The letter also provides guidance on other aspects relating to Section 232 properties, including regarding Property Capital Needs Assessments, appraisals, Section 232 Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments, asbestos surveys, and radon testing, among other things.
On July 23, HUD announced plans to ultimately terminate the 2015 version of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, while proposing a new final rule titled “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.” The new final rule includes a detailed history of the expansion of the AFFH concept and details concerns with the 2015 rule. According to HUD, the AFFH rule is, among other things, overly burdensome, costly, and ineffective. However, several senators argued against HUD’s originally proposed replacement (covered by InfoBytes here), contending that the proposed rule would reverse efforts to make access to housing fair and equitable and “relies on the faulty premise that simply increasing housing supply can address the problems of housing discrimination and segregation.” HUD stated that after reviewing comments on the proposed changes, the agency ultimately determined them to be “unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with,” and noted that it had instead established programs to bring capital into underserved communities where affordable housing is present but opportunities are not. The new final rule broadly defines “fair housing” to be “housing that, among other attributes, is affordable, safe, decent, free of unlawful discrimination, and accessible under civil rights laws,” and defines “affirmatively furthering fair housing” as “any action rationally related to promoting” any of the attributes of fair housing. Specifically, a grantee’s certification that it has affirmatively furthered fair housing would be deemed sufficient provided it proposed taking action to further fair housing policy during the relevant period. The new final rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
On July 16, the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing entitled “Protecting Homeowners During the Pandemic: Oversight of Mortgage Servicers’ Implementation of the CARES Act.” The subcommittee’s memorandum regarding the hearing discussed, among other things, the HUD Office of Inspector General’s report of its review of the type of forbearance information accessible to borrowers on the top 30 mortgage servicers’ websites. The report highlighted concerns that 10 of the servicers failed to have forbearance information “‘readily available’ on their websites,” 14 servicers’ websites did not provide information about the length of the forbearance period to which borrowers are entitled under the CARES Act, and certain servicers “included information giving the impression that lump sum payments were required at the end of the forbearance period.”
Witnesses discussed widespread issues in CARES Act-related mortgage servicing, with several witnesses and lawmakers highlighting how preexisting inequalities have especially imperiled black and Latinx home ownership during the Covid-19 pandemic. One witness suggested that servicers should be required to provide written notice to borrowers of their options and rights under the CARES Act and should be held accountable for failing to provide consistent, accurate forbearance information to borrowers in a timely manner. Another witness noted that housing counselors have reported servicers providing misinformation on payment and deferral options, and stressed the need for coordinated efforts between the CFPB, FHFA, and HUD, in addition to strong supervisory and enforcement activity.
Other topics discussed during the hearing included (i) the importance of providing clear guidance for borrowers, as well as the importance of loan modifications, loss mitigation options, and long term solutions once forbearance has ended; (ii) understanding what servicers of non-federally backed mortgages not covered by the CARES Act are doing to assist borrowers, and whether there should be a safe harbor for these mortgage servicers from investor liability; and (iii) the CFPB’s responsibility for overseeing servicers. One of the witnesses noted during the hearing, however, that many mortgage servicers offered homeowners forbearance options before the CARES Act, provided forbearance to homeowners with non-federally backed mortgages, and have responded to “an evolving series of program and regulatory announcements from various programs and agencies.”
On July 14, FHA published proposed revisions to the Servicing and Loss Mitigation section (Section III) of the Single Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1 (SF Handbook) on the agency’s drafting table. The proposed revisions include: (i) changes to the standard servicing loss mitigation home retention waterfall; (ii) elimination of certain borrower documentation requirements for Trial Payment Plans to be consistent with industry practices; and (iii) modification of certain operational policies to provide more consistency between FHA policies and those used by Government Sponsored Enterprises and the private market. The proposed revisions do not address the immediate servicing and loss mitigation challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Comments on the proposed revisions must be received by September 12.
On July 8, the FHA announced additional home retention measures to assist homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages who are financially impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Mortgagee Letter 2020-20, effective immediately, mortgage servicers are able to offer a new suit of loss mitigation “waterfall” options to homeowners whose mortgages were current or less than 30 days past due as of March 1. ML 2020-20 updates existing options previously outlined in ML 2020-06 (covered by InfoBytes here) and introduces several new measures including (i) a standalone partial claim, not to exceed the 30 percent maximum statutory value; (ii) an owner-occupant loan modification (for homeowners who do not qualify for a standalone partial claim) that will modify the rate and term of the existing mortgage at the end of the Covid-19 forbearance period; (iii) a combination partial clam and loan modification (for homeowners who are ineligible for either of the first two options); and (iv) a FHA Home Affordable Modification Program combination loan modification and partial claim with reduced documentation, which may include principal deferment and is for homeowners who are ineligible for the other home retention solutions. ML 2020-20 also provides that borrowers who do not currently occupy their FHA-insurance single family property may obtain a modification to their mortgage rates and terms under a Covid-19 non-occupant loan modification.
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "High standards: Best practices for banking marijuana-related businesses" at the ACAMS AML & Anti-Financial Crime Conference
- Daniel P. Stipano to discuss "Wait wait ... do tell me! Where the panelists answer to you" at the ACAMS AML & Anti-Financial Crime Conference
- Matthew P. Previn and Walter E. Zalenski to discuss "Is valid when made ... valid?" at the Women in Housing & Finance Partner Series webinar
- Warren W. Traiger and Caroline K. Eisner to discuss "CRA modernization and the OCC final rule" at CBA Live
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "Transnational corruption: A chat with former U.S. federal prosecutors in New York" at Marval Live Talks
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk and Lauren Frank to discuss "New CFPB interpretation on UDAAP" at a California Mortgage Bankers Association Mortgage Quality and Compliance Committee webinar
- Thomas A. Sporkin to discuss "Managing internal investigations and advanced government defense" at the Securities Enforcement Forum
- H Joshua Kotin to discuss "Mortgage servicing in a recession: Early intervention, loss mitigation and more" at the NAFCU Virtual Regulatory Compliance Seminar
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "Independent monitoring in the United States" at the World Compliance Association Peru Chapter IV International Conference on Compliance and the Fight Against Corruption
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "The future of fair lending" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Kathryn L. Ryan to discuss "Pandemic fallout – Navigating practical operational challenges" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute