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  • CFPB Updates Guide to TRID Forms

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 6, the CFPB published an updated version of the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Guide to the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure Forms. The updated guide reflects the amendments issued by the CFPB on July 7 of this year (previously covered by a Buckley Sandler Special Alert). These include changes resolving a number of significant ambiguities that generated concerns about the liability of lenders and purchasers of mortgage loans.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB TRID TILA RESPA

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  • Senate Banking Committee Approves Financial Regulatory Relief Bill

    Federal Issues

    On December 5, the Senate Banking Committee approved bill S.2155, Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which would alter certain financial regulations under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. While not as sweeping as previous legislative relief proposals (see previous InfoBytes coverage on House Financial CHOICE Act of 2017), the bill was introduced and passed the Committee with bipartisan support. The bill’s highlights include, among other things:

    • Consumer Access to Credit. The bill deems mortgage loans held in portfolios by insured institutions with less than $10 billion in assets to be “qualified mortgages” under TILA, and removes the three-day waiting period for TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures if the second credit offer is a lower rate. The bill also instructs the CFPB to provide “clearer, authoritative guidance” on certain issues such as the applicability of TRID to mortgage assumptions and construction-to-permanent loans. Additionally, the bill eases appraisal requirements on certain mortgage loans and exempts small depository institutions with low mortgage originations from certain HMDA disclosure requirements.
    • Regulatory Relief for Certain Institutions. The bill exempts community banks from Section 13 of the Bank Holding Company Act if they have, “[i] less than $10 billion in total consolidated assets, and [ii] total trading assets and trading liabilities that are not more than five percent of total consolidated assets” – effectively allowing for exempt banks to engage in the trading of, or holding ownership interests in, hedge funds or private equity funds. Additionally, the bill raises the threshold of the Federal Reserve’s Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement and the qualification for certain banks to have an 18-month examination cycle from $1 billion to $3 billion.
    • Protections for Consumers. Included in an adopted “manager’s amendment,” the bill requires credit bureaus to provide consumers unlimited free security freezes and unfreezes. The bill also limits certain medical debt information that can be included on veterans’ credit reports.
    • Changes for Bank Holding Companies. The bill raises the threshold for applying enhanced prudential standards from $50 billion to $250 billion.

    The bill now moves to the Senate, which is not expected to take up the package before the end of this year.

    Federal Issues Senate Banking Committee Dodd-Frank Federal Legislation TILA RESPA TRID Federal Reserve OCC FDIC Mortgages HMDA Credit Reporting Agency

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  • CFPB Issues Consent Order for Steering to Real Estate Settlement Services Provider

    Consumer Finance

    On September 27, the CFPB issued a consent order against a real estate settlement services provider for allegedly steering consumers to a title insurer owned in part by three of its executives without disclosing its affiliated business interests, as required by RESPA. According to the consent order, the company received money “beyond the commission it would normally have been entitled to collect” due to an agreement or understanding that it would refer its business to the title insurer, but it did not make the disclosures of the affiliate relationships required by RESPA to over 7,000 consumers. The CFPB’s order requires the company to pay up to $1.25 million in redress to affected consumers and to implement policies and procedures to ensure proper disclosure of applicable referrals to consumers in the future.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Enforcement RESPA Mortgage Origination

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  • Illinois Governor Enacts Amendments to Predatory Lending Database Article

    State Issues

    On September 15, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law amendments to the state’s Residential Real Property Disclosure Act to change provisions under its Predatory Lending Database Article. Public Act 100-0509 sets forth the following changes, among others: (i) certificates of compliance or certificates of exemption must now contain at least “one of the borrower’s names on the mortgage loan and the property index number for the subject property”; (ii) amends the definitions of “counseling” by removing the reference to “telephone counseling” and “originator” to reference “mortgage loan originator”; (iii) eliminates the requirement that originators shall provide information regarding affiliated or third party service providers or monies received from a broker or originator for inclusion in the predatory lending database; and (iv) provides additions to the information that must be collected and submitted by the title insurance company or closing agent for inclusion in the predatory lending database, such as a detailed list of all notices provided to the borrower at closing, including information in connection with the Integrated Closing Disclosure and the Integrated Loan Estimate Disclosure required under TILA-RESPA. The amendments took effect September 15, 2017.

    State Issues State Legislation Anti-Predatory Lending Mortgages TRID TILA RESPA GFE Mortgage Origination

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  • CFPB Issues Summary of Changes and Clarifications to 2017 TILA-RESPA Rule

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 30, the CFPB released “2017 TILA-RESPA Rule: Detailed Summary of Changes and Clarifications” to assist the mortgage industry in implementing the disclosure requirements of the CFPB’s recently finalized TILA-RESPA Rule. The summary provides an in-depth outline of modifications to the rule, and explains and corrects certain provisions.

    Topics covered by the summary include:

    • “Effective date and mandatory compliance date”;
    • “Coverage,” specifically with respect to cooperative units, trusts, and housing assistance loans;
    • “Good faith requirement (i.e., tolerances) and revised disclosures”;
    • “Shopping for settlement services”;
    • “Disclosure of principal reductions (also known as principal curtailments)”;
    • “Total of payments disclosure”;
    • “Simultaneous subordinate lien loans”;
    • “Construction loans”;
    • “Use of positive and negative numbers for certain disclosures in the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure”;
    • “Rounding”;
    • “Calculating cash to close”;
    • “Disclosure of payoffs of existing liens, and unsecured debt”;
    • “Disclosure of estimated value when no sales price or appraised value”;
    • “Separation of consumer and seller information on Closing Disclosures”;
    • “Other disclosures in the Loan Estimate”;
    • “Other disclosures in the Closing Disclosure”; and
    • “Other minor changes” (including correcting typographical errors).

    In addition to the summary, the CFPB also provided additional reference materials to help industry participants to comply with the rule. The rule becomes effective on October 10.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB RESPA TILA TRID Mortgages

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  • Mortgage Company, Real Estate Services Companies Reach $17 Million Class Action Settlement for Alleged RESPA Violations

    Courts

    On August 25, a national mortgage company and a real estate services family of companies (Defendants) together entered into a $17 million settlement to end a putative class action lawsuit accusing them of arranging kickbacks for unlawful referrals of title services in violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The complaint, filed in 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, accused Defendants—along with various affiliates—of violating RESPA by allegedly facilitating the exchange of unlawful referral fees and kickbacks through an affiliated business arrangement, while also directing various banks to refer title insurance and other settlement services to a subsidiary in the real estate services family of companies without informing customers of the relationship between the entities. According to a memorandum in support of the motion seeking preliminary approval of the settlement, the real estate services family of companies was “obligated to refer their customers exclusively to [the mortgage company] for mortgage loans, and, in return, [the mortgage company] was required to refer all settlement services back to [the real estate services enterprise’s] subsidiaries.” While a federal judge dismissed the first and second amended complaints “on the basis that Plaintiffs failed to plead sufficient facts for equitable tolling of RESPA’s one-year statute of limitations,” the same judge denied Defendants’ motion to dismiss a third amended complaint because “Defendants’ contention regarding equitable tolling for the statute of limitations was ‘better resolved in either a motion for summary judgment or trial.’” A fourth amended complaint, filed in July 2017, amended certain claims and added additional class plaintiffs, well after settlement discussions had started.

    A stipulation of settlement was filed alongside the motion for preliminary approval, in which Defendants continued “to deny each and all of the claims and contentions alleged in the [a]ction . . . [but] have concluded that the further conduct of the [a]ction against them would be protracted and expensive.” Furthermore, the stipulation noted that “substantial amounts of time, energy and resources have been and, unless this [s]ettlement is made, will continue to be devoted to the defense of the claims asserted in the [a]ction.” The proposed settlement class consists of more than 32,000 transactions related to borrowers who closed on mortgage loans originated by the mortgage company between approximately November 2014 through November 2015, and who paid any title, escrow or closing related charges to the real estate services companies. The proposed settlement stipulates that Defendants must pay $17 million into a settlement fund to be used to provide cash payments to class members, as well as a portion that will go towards class counsel attorney fees and litigation expenses pending court approval.

    Courts Class Action Kickback Settlement RESPA

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  • Amendments and Proposal to TRID Rule Published in Federal Register, Comments Due October 10

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    As previously reported in a Special Alert, the CFPB issued amendments to its TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule, which importantly included a concurrent proposal to address the “black hole” issue that prevents creditors from resetting tolerances using the Closing Disclosure except in very limited circumstances. On August 11, the Bureau published the amendments in a final rule and the proposal in the Federal Register. The final rule takes effect October 10, 2017 with mandatory compliance by October 1, 2018. Comments on the proposal are due October 10, 2017.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB TRID RESPA TILA Federal Register

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  • Judge Issues Ruling that Federal Safe Harbor Provision Applies in RESPA Case

    Courts

    On July 13, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky issued an opinion holding that a safe harbor provision for affiliated business arrangements under Section 8(c)(4) of RESPA protects a Louisville law firm's relationship with a string of now-closed title insurance agencies. (See CFPB v. Borders and Borders, Plc, No. 3:13-cv-01047-CRS-DW (W.D. Ky. July 13, 2017)). In 2013, the CFPB alleged the firm violated RESPA by paying kickbacks for real estate settlement referrals through a network of joint ventures with the principals of nine title insurance companies. (See previous InfoBytes summary here.) The judge granted the firm’s motion for summary judgment on only one safe harbor question, stating that the firm’s agreements with the title insurance agencies qualified as “affiliated business arrangements” because it “disclosed the relationship…, the customers could reject the referral, and the Bureau failed to show that the [title insurance companies] received anything of value beyond their ownership interests.”

    The judge rejected the firm's claim that the CFPB cannot seek disgorgement as a remedy and further declined to address the firm’s ultra vires argument that the CFPB is an unconstitutional agency and therefore lacks legal authority to bring suit, stating that the en banc decision in PHH Corp. v. CFPB has not yet been issued.

    Notably, however, the judge appeared to suggest that case could be appealed because the firm’s other arguments fail to qualify for RESPA safe harbors under Sections 8(c)(1) and 8(c)(2).

    Courts CFPB RESPA Mortgages Litigation Disgorgement Safe Harbor

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  • PHH v. CFPB Update: PHH Counters CFPB’s Statute of Limitations Interpretation

    Courts

    On June 13, PHH Corporation sent a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit responding to a June 7 letter from the CFPB that stated RESPA’s three-year statute of limitations is not applicable in its enforcement action against the company. In its letter, the CFPB cited a decision in Kokesh v. SEC where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a five-year limit applies to civil penalties, and that, furthermore, “[d]isgorgement in the securities-enforcement context is a ‘penalty’ within the meaning of §2462, and so disgorgement actions must be commenced within five years of the date the claim accrues.” The Bureau further supported its argument for a five-year limit by claiming that RESPA’s three-year statute of limitations provision applies only to “actions” brought in a “United States district court or any other court of competent jurisdiction,” and its administrative proceeding against the company for alleged mortgage kickbacks was not an “action” under RESPA.

    In response, PHH countered that Section 2462 contains a “catch-all limitations period ‘[e]xcept as otherwise provided’ by Congress.” Thus, the D.C. Circuit panel was correct when it held that Congress “otherwise provided” a three-year statute of limitations under RESPA that applies to enforcement proceedings because in the “second part of Section 2614, the term ‘actions’ is not limited to actions brought in court.” PHH further asserts that Dodd-Frank “repeatedly uses the term ‘action’ to encompass court actions and administrative proceedings.”

    As previously covered in InfoBytes, on May 24, the D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the CFPB. It did not indicate that it was inclined to revisit the panel’s determination that the Bureau misinterpreted RESPA when applying it to PHH’s practices.

    Courts Litigation Mortgages CFPB PHH v. CFPB RESPA

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  • CFPB Fines Mortgage Servicer for RESPA Violations

    Consumer Finance

    On June 7, the CFPB ordered a mortgage servicer to pay up to $1.15 million in restitution for failing to provide borrowers with required foreclosure protections when handling loss-mitigation applications. The consent order alleges the servicer violated RESPA by failing to send critical information to consumers who were applying for foreclosure relief, and, in some circumstances, beginning foreclosure proceedings on borrowers who had submitted completed applications. Pursuant to the consent order, in addition to restitution, the servicer is required to provide borrowers the opportunity to pursue foreclosure relief, must cease its illegal practices, and develop policies and procedures to ensure compliance with mortgage servicing rules.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Enforcement Mortgages Foreclosure RESPA Mortgage Servicing

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