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  • CFPB sues mortgage company for allegedly deceiving veterans about refinance benefits

    Courts

    On December 6, the CFPB announced the filing of a complaint and proposed final judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada against a non-bank mortgage company for allegedly deceiving veterans about the benefits of refinancing their mortgages in violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act. According to the complaint, during in-home presentations, the company would allegedly use flawed “apples to apples” comparisons between the consumers’ mortgages and an Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan (a loan, guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which allows veterans to refinance mortgages at lower interest rates). The Bureau alleges the presentations misrepresented the future cost savings of the refinance by (i) inflating the future amount of principal owed under the existing mortgage; (ii) overestimating the future loan’s term, which underestimated the future monthly payments; and (iii) overestimating the total monthly benefit of the loan after the first month.

    If ordered by the court, the judgment would require the company to pay $268,869 in redress to consumers and a civil penalty of $260,000; it would also prohibit the company from misrepresenting the terms or benefits of mortgage refinancing.

    Courts CFPB Civil Money Penalties Military Lending Department of Veterans Affairs IRRRL Refinance Mortgages

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  • Foreclosure firm and affiliates agree to DOJ settlement resolving FCA allegations

    Federal Issues

    On December 4, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that a New York foreclosure law firm and its wholly-owned affiliates—a process server and a title search company (defendants)—have agreed to pay $4.6 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations claiming that between 2009 and 2018 the defendants systematically generated false and inflated bills for foreclosure-related and eviction-related expenses and caused those expenses to be paid by Fannie Mae. The settlement also resolves claims arising from the same misconduct pertaining to eviction-related expenses that were submitted to and ultimately paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The DOJ alleges that the process server and title search company both added “additional charges to the costs charged by independent contractors and otherwise took actions that increased costs and expenses,” which were then submitted by the law firm for reimbursement. According to the DOJ, “[l]awyers are not above the law. For years, the [law firm] submitted bills to Fannie Mae and the VA that contained inflated and unnecessary charges. This Office will continue to hold accountable those who seek to achieve profits by fraudulent conduct.” The DOJ states that Fannie Mae’s Servicing Guide requires “all foreclosure costs and expenses be ‘actual, reasonable, and necessary,’ and that foreclosure law firms ‘must make every effort to reduce foreclosure-related costs and expenses in a manner that is consistent with all applicable laws.’”

    The DOJ further notes that the defendants agreed to pay an additional $1,518,000 to resolve separate False Claims Act claims pursued by the whistleblower.

    Federal Issues DOJ Fannie Mae Department of Veterans Affairs Foreclosure Mortgages FHFA False Claims Act / FIRREA Whistleblower

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  • VA encourages loan holders to extend relief to borrowers impacted by California wildfires

    Federal Issues

    On November 15, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-18-26, requesting relief for homeowners impacted by the California wildfires. Among other things, the Circular encourages loan holders to (i) extend forbearance to borrowers in distress because of the wildfires; (ii) establish a 90-day moratorium from the date of the disaster on initiating new foreclosures on affected loans; (iii) waive late charges on affected loans; and (iv) suspend reporting affected loans to credit bureaus. The Circular is effective until October 1, 2019. Mortgage servicers and veteran borrowers are also encouraged to review the VA’s Guidance on Natural Disasters.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues Department of Veterans Affairs Disaster Relief Mortgages

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  • VA clarifies effect of guarantee claim payments on home loan entitlement

    Federal Issues

    On October 30, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released Circular 26-18-25, which clarifies the effect on a veteran’s home loan entitlement when the VA pays a guaranty on a home loan terminated by foreclosure, short sale, or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. Specifically, for loans originated on or after January 1, 1990, the circular clarifies that the VA no longer establishes debts against veterans after the VA pays a guaranty to reimburse a servicer for its loss. However, if the veteran wants to reuse the VA home loan benefit, then he or she is required to reimburse the VA for the loss amount. The loss only affects the veteran’s entitlement under the VA Home Loan Guaranty program and does not impact any other VA benefits. The veteran may choose to repay the loss to restore the full entitlement or use any of the remaining entitlement amount that may be available to the veteran. The circular is effective until October 1, 2020.

    Federal Issues Department of Veterans Affairs Mortgages Military Lending

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  • VA encourages loan holders to extend relief to borrowers impacted by Hurricane Michael

    Federal Issues

    On October 15, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued Circular 26-18-23, requesting relief for homeowners impacted by Hurricane Michael. Among other things, the Circular encourages loan holders to (i) extend forbearance to borrowers in distress because of the storms; (ii) establish a 90-day moratorium from the date of the disaster on initiating new foreclosures on affected loans; (iii) waive late charges on affected loans; and (iv) suspend reporting affected loans to credit bureaus. The Circular is effective until October 1, 2019. Mortgage servicers and veteran borrowers are also encouraged to review the VA’s Guidance on Natural Disasters.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues Department of Veterans Affairs Disaster Relief Mortgages Mortgage Servicing

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  • VA provides status update to address 2014 loan guaranty interim final rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On October 9, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published a status update in the Federal Register to inform the public that it will not publish a final rule to adopt provisions outlined in its May 2014 interim final rule (IFR). The IFR was issued to implement provisions of Dodd-Frank concerning ability-to-repay standards and qualified mortgages (QM) as defined under TILA. According to the status update, section 309 of Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (EGRRCPA) superseded certain elements of the IFR. Specifically, the EGRRCPA’s “seasoning and recoupment requirements for [Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loans] effectively eliminated the category of rebuttable presumption QM.” The VA reminded program participates to refer to Circular 26-18-13, previously issued in May and covered by InfoBytes, which addressed “loan churning” of VA-guaranteed refinance loans and set out new requirements for VA eligibility as addressed by EGRRCPA. The VA commented that it will publish future rulemaking to supersede the IFR, but that in the meantime, the IFR remains in effect to the extent the provisions do not conflict, or are not superseded by, EGRRCPA.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Department of Veterans Affairs Dodd-Frank Americans with Disabilities Act Qualified Mortgage TILA EGRRCPA S. 2155 Mortgages

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  • Agencies offer relief following Hurricane Florence

    Federal Issues

    On September 19, the SEC announced regulatory relief to publicly traded companies, investment companies, accountants, transfer agents, municipal advisors, and others impacted by Hurricane Florence. The SEC order conditionally exempts affected persons not able to meet a filing deadline due to the weather event and its aftermath from certain reporting and filing requirements of the federal securities laws, for the period from and including September 14 to October 26, with all reports, schedules or forms to be filed on or before October 29. Additionally, the SEC adopted interim final temporary rules that extend the filing deadlines for certain reports and forms that companies must file under Regulation Crowdfunding and Regulation A. 

    On September 18, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued Circular 26-18-18, requesting relief for homeowners impacted by Hurricane Florence. Among other things, the Circular encourages loan holders to (i) extend forbearance to borrowers in distress because of the storms; (ii) establish a 90-day moratorium from the date of the disaster on initiating new foreclosures on affected loans; and (iii) waive late charges on affected loans. The Circular is effective until October 1, 2019.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues SEC Department of Veterans Affairs Disaster Relief Mortgages Securities

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  • Agencies issue guidance to institutions affected by storms in Gulf Coast and Hurricane Lane in Hawaii

    Federal Issues

    On September 5, the OCC issued a proclamation permitting OCC-regulated institutions to close their offices affected by Tropical Storm Gordon in the Gulf Coast Region. OCC Bulletin 2012-28 provides further guidance on natural disasters and other emergency conditions.

    On August 30, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued Circular 26-18-17, requesting relief for homeowners impacted by Hurricane Lane in Hawaii. Among other things, the Circular (i) encourages loan holders to extend forbearance to borrowers in distress because of the storms; (ii) requests that loan holders establish a 90-day moratorium on initiating new foreclosures on loans affected by the major disaster; and (iii) waives late charges on affected loans. The Circular is effective until October 1, 2019.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on disaster relief here.

    Federal Issues OCC Department of Veterans Affairs Disaster Relief Mortgages Foreclosure Forbearance

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  • HUD publishes interpretive rule on Ginnie Mae loan-seasoning requirement

    Federal Issues

    On July 3, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published in the Federal Register an interpretive rule regarding the loan-seasoning requirement for Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities from the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (the Act), S.2155/ P.L. 115-174. The interpretive rule establishes that (i) any VA refinance mortgage that does not meet the requirements of the Act is not eligible to serve as collateral for Ginnie Mae mortgage-backed securities; (ii) any VA refinance mortgage that does not meet the Act’s requirements, but was guaranteed before the Act’s enactment are unaffected; and (iii) the Act does not prohibit Ginnie Mae from guaranteeing Multiclass Securities where the trust assets consist of certificates previously lawfully guaranteed with underlying VA refinance loans that may not meet the requirements of the Act. Comments on the interpretive rule must be submitted by August 2.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, Ginnie Mae issued All Participants Memorandum APM 18-04, which establishes (in accordance with the Act) that in order to be eligible for Ginnie Mae securities, the date of the VA refinance loan must be on or after the later of (i) 210 days after the date of the first payment made on the loan being refinanced; and (ii) the date of the sixth monthly payment made on the loan being refinanced. 

    Federal Issues Ginnie Mae MBS Department of Veterans Affairs IRRRL S. 2155 HUD EGRRCPA

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  • Agencies issue disaster relief guidance for volcanic activity in Hawaii and severe storm in Maine

    Federal Issues

    On June 19, the FDIC issued Financial Institution Letter FIL-33-2018 to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions and facilitate recovery in areas of Hawaii affected by volcanic eruption and earthquakes. The FDIC is encouraging institutions to consider, among other things, extending repayment terms and restructuring existing loans that may be affected by the natural disasters. Additionally, the FDIC notes that institutions may receive favorable Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) consideration for certain development loans, investments, and services in support of disaster recovery.

    On June 14, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued Circular 26-18-16, requesting relief for veterans impacted by Maine’s severe storm and flooding. Among other things, the Circular (i) encourages loan holders to extend forbearance to borrowers in distress because of the storms; (ii) requests that loan holders establish a 90-day moratorium on initiating new foreclosures on loans affected by the major disaster; and (iii) waives late charges on affected loans. The Circular is effective until July 1, 2019.

    Find more InfoBytes disaster relief coverage here.

    Federal Issues Department of Veterans Affairs Disaster Relief Mortgages FDIC

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