Special Alert: CFPB Finalizes Amendments to Mortgage Servicing Rules

On Thursday, the CFPB issued its long-awaited final amendments to the mortgage servicing provisions of Regulations X and Z. The Bureau had sought comment on the proposed rule in December 2014, more than 18 months ago. Spanning 900 pages, the final rule makes significant changes that will impact servicers even as it clarifies several points of confusion with the existing regulations. Most significantly, the amendments extend existing protections to successors in interest and borrowers who have previously been evaluated for loss mitigation under the rules, brought their loans current, and then experienced new delinquencies. The amendments also require servicers to provide modified periodic statements to borrowers in bankruptcy. In coordination with the final amendments, the Bureau published an interpretive rule under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) to address industry concerns about conflicts with the servicing rules.

A summary of the key amendments is provided below. Unless otherwise stated below, the amendments take effect 12 months from the date of publication of the rule in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred. If recent experience is any guide, we anticipate that publication in the Federal Register may be delayed for as long as a month, given the length of the final rule, commentary, and preamble.

Please join BuckleySandler attorneys Ben Olson, Michelle Rogers and Kitty Ryan for a webinar on September 7 to further discuss the amended rules and their compliance, examination and enforcement implications. Invitation and registration information to follow.

Click here to view the full Special Alert.

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Questions regarding the matters discussed in this Alert may be directed to any of our lawyers listed below, or to any other BuckleySandler attorney with whom you have consulted in the past.

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CFPB Issues Principles for the Future of Loss Mitigation

On August 2, the CFPB released consumer protection principles for mortgage servicers to use as they develop new foreclosure relief solutions in anticipation of Treasury’s Home Affordable Modification Program’s (HAMP) upcoming expiration date (CFPB Principles). The CFPB Principles echo those summarized in FHFA’s, HUD’s, and Treasury’s recently published white paper, “Guiding Principles for the Future of Loss Mitigation: How the Lessons Learned from the Financial Crisis Can Influence the Path Forward.” As previously covered in InfoBytes, the white paper recommends that future loss mitigation programs promote accessibility, affordability, sustainability, transparency, and accountability. The CFPB Principles address accessibility, affordability, sustainability, and transparency, and cite to separate CFPB mortgage servicing rules for standards concerning accountability. In its press release, the CFPB notes that the four principles “do not establish binding legal requirements but instead are intended to complement ongoing discussions among industry, consumer, groups, and policymakers.”

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GAO Releases Report on Mortgage Servicing

On July 25, the GAO released a report titled “Mortgage Servicing: Community Lenders Remain Active under New Rules, but CFPB Needs More Complete Plans for Reviewing Rules.” At the request of the House Committee on Financial Services, the GAO report outlines and analyzes the effect of the CFPB’s 2013 mortgage-servicing rules and the banking regulators’ implementation of the Basel III framework on credit unions and community banks’ (collectively, community lenders) mortgage servicing activities. Specifically, the GAO report examines (i) community lenders’ participation in the mortgage servicing market, as well as the potential effect of the new mortgage servicing rules on them; (ii) the potential impact that the Basel III framework could have on community lenders’ decisions to hold or sell Mortgage Servicing Rights (MSR); and (iii) regulators’ processes for estimating the impact of the new regulations.  Read more…

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Agencies Issue White Paper Regarding Loss Mitigation Programs

On July 25, FHFA, HUD, and Treasury published a white paper titled “Guiding Principles for the Future of Loss Mitigation: How the Lessons Learned from the Financial Crisis Can Influence the Path Forward.” The paper examines the effect of the 2008 financial crisis on the mortgage servicing industry with a focus on loss mitigation programs. Under the 2009 Making Home Affordable (MHA) program, foreclosure alternatives were established to address the needs of homeowners and to improve the mortgage servicing industry’s loss mitigation practices. According to the paper, between April 2009 and the end of May 2016, 10.5 million modification and mortgage assistance arrangements were completed through government programs and private sector efforts. The paper further notes that, as a result of  FHFA’s, HUD’s, and Treasury’s programs, regulatory actions, and private sector initiatives, the mortgage industry is “generally better prepared now to provide assistance to struggling homeowners than it was before the crisis.” The improvement “is due, in part, to the adoption of certain homeowner engagement standards including continuity of contact, solicitation timeframes, and certain notice and appeal processes required by the [CFPB].” At the end of 2016, MHA programs, such as HAMP, will come to a close. Based on the agencies’ collective experience with MHA programs, the paper identifies  five guiding principles for loss mitigation programs: (i) accessibility, guaranteeing homeowners a simple process for obtaining mortgage assistance; (ii) affordability, “providing homeowners with meaningful payment relief that addresses the needs of the homeowner, the servicer and the investor, to support long-term performance”; (iii) sustainability, offering long-term solutions intended to resolve delinquency; (iv) transparency, “[e]nsuring that the process to obtain assistance, and the terms of that assistance, are as clear and understandable as possible to homeowners, and that information about options and their utilization is available to the appropriate parties”; and (v) accountability, ensuring sufficient oversight of the process to obtain mortgage assistance.

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California DBO Publishes Report on Lender and Servicer Data

On July 11, the California Department of Business and Oversight (DBO) published its 2015 Annual Report: Operation of Lenders and Servicers under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, which compiles consolidated data from unaudited annual reports filed by mortgage lenders and servicers licensed under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act. Notably, the report identifies a significant increase in the number and aggregate principal amount of mortgage loans that were originated by such licensees in 2015 as compared to 2014 (an increase of 47.3 percent and 56.7 percent, respectively). Additionally, among other things, the aggregate principal amount of mortgage loans serviced by such licensees increased each month in 2015 compared to 2014 (by 7.4 percent), while the number of foreclosures reported by such licensees somewhat decreased in 2015 compared to 2014 (by 3.6 percent).

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