On June 10, the OCC released Bulletin 2016-20 to inform national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks (OCC-supervised institutions) of recent temporary amendments to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). As previously covered in InfoBytes and as outlined in the OCC’s Bulletin, the Foreclosure Relief and Extension for Servicemembers Act 2015 extends through December 31, 2017 the SCRA provision that protects servicemembers against sale, foreclosure, or seizure of property based on a breach of a secured obligation without a court order or waiver for one year following completion of their service. The OCC’s Bulletin notes that HUD updated its “Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Notice Disclosure” (Form 92070) to reflect the temporary extensions.
On June 22, the CFPB released its eleventh issue of Supervisory Highlights specifically to address recent supervisory examination observations of the mortgage servicing industry. According to the report, mortgage servicers continue to face compliance challenges, particularly in the areas of loss mitigation and servicing transfers. The report attributes compliance weaknesses to outdated and deficient servicing technology, as well as the lack of proper training, testing, and auditing of technology-driven processes. Notable findings outlined in the report include the following: (i) multiple violations related to servicing rules that require loss mitigation acknowledgment notices, observing deficiencies with timeliness and content of acknowledgement notices; (ii) violations regarding servicer loss mitigation offer letters and other related communications, including unreasonable delay in sending letters; (iii) failure to state the correct reason(s) in letters to borrowers for denying a trial or permanent loan modification option; (iv) failure to implement effective servicing policies, procedures, and requirements; and (v) heightened risks to consumers when transferring loans during the loss mitigation process. Although the report focuses largely on mortgage servicers’ continued violations, it acknowledged that certain servicers have significantly improved over the past several years by, in part, “enhancing and monitoring their servicing platforms, staff training, coding accuracy, auditing, and allowing for great flexibility in operations.”
In addition to outlining Supervision’s examination observations of the mortgage servicing industry, the report also notes that the CFPB’s Supervision and Examination Manual was recently updated to reflect regulatory changes, technical corrections, and updated examination priorities in the mortgage servicing chapter.
On June 8, HUD announced a conciliation agreement with a North Carolina-chartered commercial lender to resolve allegations that, as the successor of a merger with a South Carolina-based bank, it denied mortgage loans to African American, Latino, and Asian American applicants at a disproportionately higher rate than white applicants in violation of Section 804(b) and 805 of the Federal Fair Housing Act. After conducting an analysis of mortgage loans originated by the South Carolina bank between 2010 and 2011, the Department found that the bank demonstrated preferential treatment of white mortgage loan applicants through the retail channel via manual override of its automated underwriting system. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the commercial lender, having cooperated with HUD’s investigation, must among other things, (i) provide nonprofit organizations with $140,000 to use toward credit and housing counseling, financial literacy training, and related programs for first-time homebuyers in South Carolina; (ii) spend an aggregate amount of $20,000 on positive marketing, advertising, and outreach to residents in majority-minority census tracts in South Carolina; (iii) partner with a non-profit organization or community groups involved in financial education to conduct, at a minimum, 24 financial education programs in South Carolina for individuals and small business owners; (iv) hire three mortgage banker market specialists to “focus on diverse lending in Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, Columbia, and Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin metro areas”; (v) require fair housing training for all employees and agents substantially involved in manual underwriting of mortgages; and (vi) implement “a new standardized and objective set of guidelines for a second review of retail channel residential loan applications initially denied by the automated underwriting system.”
On June 1, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors announced that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) will now use the National SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) Test with Uniform State Content, making it the 52nd state agency to adopt the test. Under the new process, Illinois licensees who pass the SAFE MLO Test with Uniform State Content no longer need to take an additional, state-specific test. IDFPR Secretary Bryan Schneider commented on the streamlined test process saying, “[b]y providing a more effective regulatory experience, we foster the creation of a regulatory environment conducive to strong economic growth and opportunity.”
On June 2, the FDIC announced a settlement with eight financial institutions to resolve federal and state securities law claims based on the institutions’ residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) practices. As the receiver for five failed banks from November 2011 through August 2012, the FDIC filed six lawsuits for alleged violations of federal and state securities laws. Specifically, according to the FDIC, the eight financial institutions made misrepresentations in offering documents in connection with the sale of 21 RMBS to the five failed banks. The $190 million in settlement funds will be distributed among the receiverships for the five failed banks.