On Monday April 20, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law an emergency act that will temporarily ban almost all eviction and foreclosure proceedings statewide during the COVID-19 pandemic. That law, H4647 (the “Act”), will significantly impact the rights of financial services companies to enforce mortgage loans through foreclosure in the Commonwealth. Mortgagees need to be aware of many new restrictions and obligations to avoid missteps as the crisis unfolds.Read More
A Summary of Federal and State Statutes, Rules and Orders
The coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic has been and will continue to be a major business disrupter that will have a substantial impact on the consumer financial services industry in the weeks and months to come. Notably, federal, state and local governments and agencies are acting swiftly and changing the rules by which consumer financial services companies are to do business in the short and long term. K&L Gates LLP (“K&L Gates”) has developed a COVID-19 Task Force to closely monitor these developments and is tracking them in several jurisdictions across the firm’s footprint. Below is a summary, current as of March 30, 2020, of key new and proposed statutes, rules, and orders that are likely to impact consumer financial services companies. Keeping track of these almost daily developments to foreclosure, eviction, debt collection, student loans and other business lines, which vary state to state, is critical for consumer financial services companies to respond to their customers. As with previous nationwide crises, how these companies implement and apply these changes will have a substantial impact on post-pandemic compliance, litigation, and risks. K&L Gates has team members assigned to each of the states listed below who are able to help answer your questions and help companies address ongoing issues associated with the pandemic. Please click on a jurisdiction below for more information:Read More
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) heard argument on February 13, 2020, on whether compliance with a state-mandated default notice could, nevertheless, void foreclosure sales in Massachusetts. Specifically, the SJC examined whether the provision of the state-mandated notice has the potential to deceive a borrower where it describes a period for reinstating a loan that varies (to the benefit of the borrower) from the period contained in the mortgage.Read More
For the past six months, the mortgage lending industry has reported receiving conflicting messages from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) and the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) recipients’ eligibility for FHA-insured mortgages. In December 2018, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) asked HUD to clarify whether it has “developed a policy regarding DACA recipients’ eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage loans.” If not, the senators requested HUD to “promptly provide clear and written guidance to FHA-approved lenders clarifying” that DACA recipients are not ineligible for FHA insurance simply because of their DACA status.  In response, HUD issued a letter explaining that is has “not implemented any policy changes” with respect to “FHA’s eligibility requirements” for non-U.S. citizens who are lawful residents. HUD reiterated that “non-U.S. citizens without lawful residency are ineligible for FHA financing.”  In early 2019, Fannie Mae issued a guide regarding “non-citizen borrower eligibility,” explaining that mortgages provided to DACA recipients are eligible to be purchased by Fannie Mae because DACA recipients are lawful nonpermanent residents because they have a valid Employment Authorization Document number.  During congressional testimony in April, HUD Secretary Ben Carson seemingly clarified that DACA recipients are eligible for FHA-insured mortgages. The secretary commented that “plenty of DACA recipients … have FHA mortgages,” and that he would be surprised if lenders received statements to the contrary from HUD staff.Read More
Extensive data about mortgage lending activity collected pursuant to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (“HMDA”) was just made available to the public for the first time on March 29, 2019. More detail about borrowers, about underwriting, and about loan features is now available than ever before, and that information also is easier for the public to access than it ever has been. The mortgage lending industry should expect that the expanded HMDA data will receive significant attention and scrutiny from private organizations and individuals, and the data is certain to spark controversy about the racial, ethnic and gender fairness of mortgage lending.Read More
“Debt buyers”—entities that purchase debt from original creditors or other downstream assignees—often view themselves as being different from “debt collectors”—entities that act to collect debts from obligors. But in Barbato v. Greystone Alliance, LLC,  the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit disagreed, holding that debt buyers can be debt collectors under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”). Specifically, the Third Circuit ruled that part of the FDCPA’s definition of “debt collector” encompasses debt buyers, regardless of whether they outsource collection activities to third parties.Read More
On behalf of the American Bankers Association and state bankers associations across the country, K&L Gates partner Paul F. Hancock and associate Olivia Kelman crafted a comment that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD” or “Department”) on August 20, 2018, in support of reopening rulemaking regarding the Department’s implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard. On June 20, 2018, HUD issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that sought public comment on possible amendments to the Department’s 2013 final disparate impact rule in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 2507 (2015). In that decision, the Supreme Court articulated the standards for, and the constitutional limitations on, disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. The comment explains that the rule should be amended because it adopts standards that are inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent, fails to provide much needed guidance to entities seeking to comply with the law, and is therefore outdated and ineffective. A copy of the comment is available here.
By Soyong Cho
Yesterday, the FDIC hosted a day-long Economic Inclusion Summit that brought together stakeholders in private industry, the government, and non-profit organizations to discuss strategies to expand credit to under-served communities. Speakers stressed the need to understand the personal and financial challenges facing low- and moderate-income (“LMI”) populations in order to more effectively design products and marketing channels to reach LMI communities. Leveraging big data and technology were identified as key factors to reducing costs and profitably serving LMI customers.
Banks are of course rated on their outreach initiatives to under-served communities under the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”), but profitably expanding their customer base is also good business. The FDIC’s Summit serves as a reminder of the established programs, partnerships, and networks that exist to assist banks to meet their CRA obligations. However, it is also a good reminder that banks must be sensitive to the regulatory compliance and other risks attendant with marketing to and servicing LMI communities in particular, as even the best intentions can be undermined by flawed implementation or unclear regulatory guidance. Among others, UDAAP, fair lending, and privacy issues should be considered in all phases of product development and delivery. In the coming months, K&L Gates will be hosting a series of webinars focused on the nuts and bolts of consumer protection compliance.
Members of the K&L Gates Financial Institutions & Services Litigation Group will speak on key topics at the upcoming the MBA’s Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference in Miami, FL (May 7-10).
Olivia Kelman will review the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) as well as other lending-related requirements of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) on Sunday afternoon (May 7).
Andrew C. Glass will address major litigation and enforcement trends, including cases heard or pending before the Supreme Court and other federal courts on Monday afternoon (May 8).
Paul F. Hancock will discuss fair lending issues affecting business models and practices, a topic of particular interest with the entrance of a new administration, on Monday afternoon (May 8). Paul also will facilitate a fair lending roundtable discussion later that same afternoon.
In addition, many of our group’s attorneys are attending the conference. We look forward to seeing you all in Miami!
From the February 7, 2017 article in American Banker
With good cause, anxiety has been expressed regarding the direction of the Department of Justice’s civil rights division under the Trump administration.
Unfortunately, the past 16 years have seen the pendulum fly first to lax civil rights enforcement and improper politicization of the division under the Bush administration, and then to overreaching under the Obama administration. Trump administration officials would be wise to seek a balance. To get there, guidance is available from the division’s longer-range history — including during years that might not seem obvious, like under the Reagan administration. Balance would benefit both the nation and the future of the division.
To read the full article, click here.