On April 18, the CFPB issued a report that reviews the marketing of investment adviser services to older Americans. The CFPB found that financial advisers use more than 50 different designations to market expertise in financial issues affecting seniors, which the CFPB claims creates confusion in the marketplace. The report includes detailed recommendations for the SEC and Congress related to (i) consumer education and disclosures, (ii) standards for the acquisition of senior designations, (iii) standards for senior designee conduct, and (iv) enforcement related to the misuse of senior designations. Among the recommendations, the CFPB suggests that policymakers consider requiring adviser education and standardized testing prior to obtaining a senior designation. The CFPB also suggests that the SEC and state policymakers consider increasing enforcement of misleading or other improper conduct by a holder of a senior designation and that state policymakers consider providing consumers with a private right of action to seek relief for the improper use of senior designations.
On April 26, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or the Bureau) issued a final rule, effective immediately, that sets forth procedures for the administration of the Consumer Financial Civil Penalty Fund (Civil Penalty Fund or Fund). Under Dodd-Frank, all civil penalties obtained by the CFPB are deposited into the Civil Penalty Fund, which may be used to compensate victims and, to the extent any funds remain, to fund consumer education and financial literacy programs. The final rule identifies categories of victims who may receive payments from the Civil Penalty Fund and articulates the Bureau’s interpretation of the types of payments that may be appropriate for these victims. It also establishes procedures for allocating funds for such payments to victims and for consumer education and financial literacy programs. The CFPB simultaneously issued a proposed rule, seeking comment on possible revisions to the final rule. The CFPB is accepting comments on the proposed rule through July 8, 2013.
Pursuant to the final rule, victims are eligible for compensation from the Fund if a final order in a Bureau enforcement action imposed a civil penalty for the particular violation that harmed the victim. A final order is defined as a consent order or settlement issued by a court or by the Bureau, or an appealable order issued by a court or by the Bureau as to which the time for filing an appeal has expired and no appeals are pending. The Bureau’s proposed rule, however, states that it is considering whether it should revise the final rule to allow payments to victims of any “type” of activity for which civil penalties have been imposed, even if no enforcement action has imposed penalties for the “particular” activity that harmed the victims. Read more…
On January 10, 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued its final rule on escrow account requirements for first-lien higher-priced mortgage loans. The rule amends existing escrow requirements and exemptions for such loans by, among other things, extending the required period of time during which escrow accounts must be maintained from one to five years, and creating a new exemption for small creditors that operate predominantly in rural or underserved areas. This Alert provides a detailed summary and analysis of the rule, which becomes effective June 1, 2013 and applies to loans for which creditors receive applications on or after this date. Click here to download our detailed analysis of CFPB’s Final Escrow Rule.
On February 8, HUD issued a final rule authorizing so-called “disparate impact” or “effects test” claims under the Fair Housing Act. The rule provides support for private or governmental plaintiffs challenging housing or mortgage lending practices that have a “disparate impact” on protected classes of individuals, even if the practice is facially neutral and non-discriminatory and there is no evidence that the practice was motivated by a discriminatory intent. The rule also will permit practices to be challenged based on claims that the practice improperly creates, increases, reinforces, or perpetuates segregated housing patterns.
In its final rule, HUD codified a three-step burden-shifting approach to determine liability under a disparate impact claim. Once a practice has been shown by the plaintiff to have a disparate impact on a protected class, the final rule states that the defendant would have the burden of showing that the challenged practice “is necessary to achieve one or more substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interests of the respondent . . . or defendant . . . . A legally sufficient justification must be supported by evidence and may not be hypothetical or speculative.” As proposed, the defendant would have had the burden of proving that the challenged practice “has a necessary and manifest relationship to one or more legitimate, nondiscriminatory interests.” Read more…
On January 17, the CFPB issued final rules amending Regulation Z (TILA) and Regulation X (RESPA) to implement certain mortgage servicing standards set forth by the Dodd-Frank Act and to address other issues identified by the CFPB. The rule amending Regulation Z includes changes to (i) periodic billing statement requirements, (ii) notices about adjustable rate mortgage interest rate adjustments, and (iii) rules on payment crediting and payoff statements. The rule amending Regulation X addresses (i) force-placed insurance requirements, (ii) error resolution and information request procedures, (iii) information management policies and procedures, (iv) standards for early intervention with delinquent borrowers, (v) rules for contact with delinquent borrowers, and (vi) enhanced loss mitigation procedures. This Alert includes a detailed analysis of these nine topics and also provides links to each of the model forms amended or added by the rule. For ease of reference, this Alert contains a detailed, hyper-linked table of contents. Click here to download our detailed analysis of CFPB’s Mortgage Servicing Rules.
On January 18, the federal banking agencies issued a final rule amending Regulation Z to implement certain requirements from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Dodd-Frank Act) that require creditors to obtain appraisals for a subset of loans called Higher-Priced Mortgage Loans (HPMLs), and to notify consumers who apply for these loans of their right to a copy of appraisal. On the same day, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a final rule under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, to require creditors to provide residential mortgage loan applicants with a copy of any and all appraisals and other written valuations developed in connection with an application for closed or open-end credit that is to be secured by a first lien on a dwelling. Both rules take effect on January 18, 2014. BuckleySandler has prepared a Special Alert that provides additional details regarding the HPML appraisal rule, as well as a Special Alert regarding the ECOA appraisal rule.
On January 10, the CCFPB issued a final rule that amends Regulation Z (Truth in Lending) to implement changes to the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) made by the Dodd-Frank Act. As detailed in BuckleySandler’s Special Alert, the rule expands the types of loans subject to HOEPA, revises the tests for whether a loan is “high-cost” and therefore subject to HOEPA, imposes new restrictions on high-cost loans, and requires new disclosures. Because of the special requirements for loans that meet HOEPA’s high-cost tests, the HOEPA threshold has acted as a de facto usury ceiling for the vast majority of mortgage originators. With the rule’s extension of HOEPA to more types of loans, and the lowering of the HOEPA thresholds, this ceiling will now affect a broader segment of consumers seeking mortgage loans than before. The rule also implements two additional Dodd-Frank Act provisions that are not amendments to HOEPA related to homeownership counseling. Click here to download BuckleySandler’s detailed analysis of the final high-cost mortgage rule.
As promised in our earlier flash Alert on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s highly anticipated final “Ability-to-Repay” rule governing residential mortgage lending under Regulation Z, we are providing in this Special Alert a detailed summary and analysis of the Rule, which becomes effective on January 10, 2014. We also assess the Bureau’s concurrently issued proposal, which seeks comments by February 25, 2013 on potential amendments to the Rule. For ease of reference, the Alert contains a detailed, hyper-linked Table of Contents.
On January 10, the CFPB issued its keenly awaited final “Ability-to-Repay” rule under Regulation Z that will require lenders to verify a consumer’s ability to repay a mortgage loan as required by Sections 1411 and 1412 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This rule will become effective on January 10, 2014. Concurrently, the CFPB released a proposal seeking comment on amendments to the final rule. Together, the releases containing the final and concurrent proposed rules total almost 1,000 pages. This alert highlights some key issues that the releases resolve and leave open; we will send a summary of the releases with additional analysis of the key issues once we have had more time to review.
Because of the severe penalties established by Congress for violating the “Ability to Repay” requirements – a borrower in foreclosure can assert a violation against the creditor or assignee seeking up to three years of finance charges paid on the loan – the key definitions and exemptions established by the rule are expected to greatly influence the availability and cost of residential mortgage credit for years to come.
The statute defines a subset of mortgage loans to be “Qualified Mortgages” (or QMs), which would be more difficult for consumers to challenge on ability-to-repay grounds. The rule resolves three of the major policy debates surrounding the QM concept, as discussed below, but leaves open many related matters: Read more…
Yesterday, the Senate passed H.R. 4014, an important bill that clarifies that privileged materials produced to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) retain their privileged character as to third parties. Because the House passed the same bill in March, the measure will now go to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.
The bill amends 12 U.S.C. § 1828(x) to place the Bureau on equal footing with the banking agencies—a so-called “legislative fix” that many observers have called for to address concerns that the Dodd-Frank Act did not provide clear guidance with respect to the status of privileged material provided to the CFPB. The amended statutory provision would read:
The submission by any person of any information to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, any Federal banking agency, State bank supervisor, or foreign banking authority for any purpose in the course of any supervisory or regulatory process of such Bureau, agency, supervisor, or authority shall not be construed as waiving, destroying, or otherwise affecting any privilege such person may claim with respect to such information under Federal or State law as to any person or entity other than such Bureau, agency, supervisor, or authority.
The language “any person” makes clear that the bill applies to submissions by banks, non-banks, and individuals. The bill also amends 12 U.S.C. § 1821(t)(2)(A) to allow the Bureau to share information with other federal agencies without waiving “any privilege applicable” to that information.
Once it receives the President’s signature, Read more…
Special Alert: CFPB and DOJ Announce MOU to Coordinate Fair Lending Enforcement Efforts; CFPB Issues First Annual Report to Congress on Fair Lending Activities
On December 6, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to coordinate enforcement of the federal fair lending laws, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Simultaneously, the CFPB issued its first annual Fair Lending Report to Congress as required by the Dodd-Frank Act, which describes the Bureau’s efforts to build its Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity and reviews its fair lending accomplishments. Together, these initiatives demonstrate that the CFPB and DOJ are continuing to work together closely to aggressively enforce the federal fair lending laws.
Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Fair Lending Coordination
The new MOU supplements an existing Information Sharing Agreement Regarding Fair Lending Investigations among the DOJ, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Trade Commission, which allows these fair lending enforcement agencies to share confidential information related to fair lending investigations, screening procedures, and investigative techniques. It also follows a general cooperation MOU that the DOJ and CFPB entered into earlier this year.
The new MOU focuses on information sharing and referral of matters alleging ECOA violations, but also governs the agencies’ referral processes for other fair lending-related laws and joint fair lending investigations.
Referral of ECOA Violations to DOJ: The MOU explains the circumstances under which the CFPB will refer potential ECOA violations to the DOJ for further investigation or prosecution. Consistent with the established practice of the prudential federal bank regulators, the MOU requires the CFPB to refer to the DOJ all matters where it has “reason to believe” that one or more creditors has engaged in a pattern or practice of lending discrimination. The CFPB may also refer to DOJ any violation of Section 701(a) of ECOA, including a recommendation that a civil action be commenced if the CFPB cannot obtain compliance from the financial institution.
Following referral, the DOJ has 60 days to determine whether to proceed with its own investigation. Within that period, the CFPB may not unilaterally commence its own action with regard to the referred violation(s). Even if exigent circumstances arise during the 60-day review period, the CFPB must first consult with the DOJ before taking independent action. Read more…
Special Alert: CFPB Announces First Determination Of A Petition to Modify Or Set Aside A Civil Investigative Demand
On September 20, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued its first Decision and Order on a petition to modify or set aside a civil investigative demand (CID). The petition challenged a CID issued to a non-bank mortgage servicer (the Company) seeking responses to 21 interrogatories and 33 document requests. CFPB Director Richard Cordray denied the petition in its entirety and ordered the Company to comply with the CID within 21 days. In addition to ruling on the substantive issues relevant to the petition, the Decision and Order demonstrates the importance of including detailed and specific objections in any petition to modify or set aside a CID and the crucial role of the meet-and-confer sessions.
The CID, served on May 22, was issued in connection with the Bureau’s investigation regarding whether ceding premiums from private mortgage insurance companies to captive reinsurance subsidiaries of certain mortgage lenders violates section 8 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). In the petition filed on June 12, the Company argued among other things that the CID (i) did not state the nature of the conduct under the investigation; (ii) was overly broad, unduly burdensome, and irrelevant; and (iii) requested materials going back more than 11 years when RESPA’s statute of limitations was 3 years and the CFPB’s enforcement power cannot be predicated on acts prior to July 21, 2010.
In denying the petition, Read more…
Following years of discussion about the wisdom of “national servicing standards” and piecemeal efforts to impose rules of conduct through enforcement actions against individual servicers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has released proposed servicing rules (the “Proposed Rules” or “Rules”) to govern virtually all servicers. The Proposed Rules were issued on August 10 and published in Federal Register on September 17.
There are a total of nine new categories of proposed requirements. Three arise out of provisions added by the Dodd-Frank Act to the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), and, therefore, are proposed to reside in TILA’s implementing regulation, Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. Part 1026 (“Reg. Z”). The remaining six arise from Dodd-Frank amendments to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”); those six are proposed to reside in RESPA’s implementing regulation, Regulation X, 12 C.F.R. Part 1024 (“Reg. X”).
After years of discussion and analysis by industry groups, consumer advocates, regulators, and Congressional committees, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has finally proposed a rule (the “Proposed Rule” or “Rule”) that merges the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”) mortgage loan disclosures. To make absolutely sure it happened this time around, in 2010 Congress directed that such an integrated disclosure be developed in no fewer than three separate sections of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act” or “Dodd-Frank”). The rule was published in yesterday’s Federal Register, with no substantive changes between that version and the version originally released on July 9.
Section 1032(f) of the Dodd-Frank Act provides that, by July 21, 2012, the Bureau “shall propose for public comment rules and model disclosures that combine the disclosures required under [TILA] and [sections 4 and 5 of RESPA] into a single, integrated disclosure for mortgage loan transactions covered by those laws, unless the Bureau determines that any proposal issued by the [Board] and [HUD] carries out the same purpose.” 12 U.S.C. 5532(f).
Section 1098(2) of the Dodd-Frank Act amended RESPA section 4(a) to require that the Bureau “publish a single, integrated disclosure for mortgage loan transactions (including real estate settlement cost statements) which includes the disclosure requirements of this section and section 5, in conjunction with the disclosure requirements of [TILA] that, taken together, may apply to a transaction that is subject to both or either provisions of law.” 12 U.S.C. 2603(a).
Section 1100A(5) of the Dodd-Frank Act amended TILA section 105(b) to require that the Bureau “publish a single, integrated disclosure for mortgage loan transactions (including real estate settlement cost statements) which includes the disclosure requirements of this title in conjunction with the disclosure requirements of [RESPA] that, taken together, may apply to a transaction that is subject to both or either provisions of law.” 15 U.S.C. 1604(b). Read more…
As an update to a development we reported last week, on July 11, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law two bills that form part of the state’s proposed “Homeowner Bill of Rights.” Effective January 1, 2013, the two substantively identical bills will (i) codify a number of protections similar to those contained in the Multistate Servicer Settlement between 49 state attorneys general, the Federal Government, and the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers announced on February 9, (ii) amend the mechanics of California’s foreclosure processes, and (iii) provide borrowers with new private rights of action. Several other parts of the Bill of Rights remain pending, as described in a fact sheet prepared by the California Attorney General.