On February 10, 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the North Carolina Attorney General announced a settlement against two “buy here, pay here” used car dealerships and the companies’ presidents. The settlement resolves allegations under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, its implementing regulation (Regulation B), the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and the North Carolina Uniform Commercial Code, that the companies engaged in “reverse redlining” by allegedly targeting African American borrowers for used car loans using unfair and predatory terms.
By: Phillip L. Schulman and Christa Bieker
Earlier this week, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced guidelines for a new mortgage program that will allow down payments as low as three percent for some first-time and low-income home buyers. Melvin Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency which regulates Fannie and Freddie, explained that the new guidelines will “enable credit worthy borrowers who can afford a mortgage, but lack the resources to pay a substantial down payment plus closing costs, to get a mortgage with 3 percent down.”
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not make loans, but instead buy loans from mortgage lenders and bundle them into securities to sell to investors. Fannie and Freddie’s loan guidelines have broad influence in the mortgage-lending market. The program, first announced in October, is designed to expand access to mortgages with low down payments, which Watt has stated is a “much needed piece to the broader access to credit puzzle.”
By: David L. Beam
Money services businesses (“MSBs”) have been losing access to banking services. Increased scrutiny by bank regulators of MSB relationships have led banks to conclude that providing services to MSBs carries increased compliance and reputational risk. Even if these risks can be managed in theory through appropriate due diligence and controls, many banks have decided that costs and risks of offering banking services to MSBs outweigh the revenue that they generate. Read More
On Monday, November 3, 2014, Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the disparate impact rule promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) in March 2013 under the Fair Housing Act. The court held that HUD had issued the rule—codified at 24 C.F.R. § 100.500—in contravention of the plain language of the Fair Housing Act. The case is styled American Insurance Association, et al. v. United States Department of Housing & Urban Development, et al., Case No. 1:13-cv-00966-RJL (D.D.C.).
California Attorney General Kamala Harris recently issued guidance to help companies provide more “meaningful” privacy policies. Entitled “Making Your Privacy Practices Public,” the recommendations consolidate previously issued guidance and provide new information regarding online tracking and Do Not Track (DNT) signals. As the guidance document indicates, the recommendations “are not regulations, mandates or legal opinions” and offer greater protections than those required under existing law. Clearly, though, they reflect the attorney general’s preferences and what she believes are privacy best practices. Read More
On June 25, 2014, the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a report on force-placed insurance with only one recommendation: FHFA should consider suing servicers and force-placed insurers for hundreds of millions of dollars in allegedly “excessive” force-placed insurance premiums.
As we discussed in a recent blog post, “force-placed” or “lender-placed” insurance is an area of increasing controversy, with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rolling out new restrictions on perceived conflicts of interest between insurers and the servicers that bring them business. The inspector general noted these reforms going forward, but believes that FHFA should also assess how to pursue perceived past abuses. Read More
By: Nanci L. Weissgold, *Christopher Shelton
* Mr. Shelton is not admitted in D.C. Supervised by Nanci Weissgold, member of D.C. Bar.
Force-placed insurance is under continuing scrutiny by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). However, each agency’s focus is slightly different. FHFA, perhaps galvanized by a New York enforcement action, has focused on conflicts of interest between servicers and insurers. The CFPB has focused on erroneous placing of insurance and excessive charges. Read More
By: Irene C. Freidel
On June 2, 2014, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sued the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac in state court, under Massachusetts’ consumer protection statute (“Chapter 93A”) to force them to sell foreclosed properties to non-profit organizations at fair market value, so that the properties can then be re-sold or leased back to the former homeowner. See Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Federal Housing Finance Agency, et al., C.A. No. 14-1763 (June 2, 2014). Among other things, the lawsuit seeks a declaration that the GSEs’ current anti-fraud guidelines violate Massachusetts foreclosure law (M.G.L. c. 244, § 35C(h)), an order requiring property sales to non-profits in specific transactions, an injunction to prevent the GSEs from refusing to adhere to Massachusetts law, and an award of penalties of up to $5,000 for each transaction that the court determines constituted an unfair and deceptive practice under state law. The lawsuit follows a series of communications between the Massachusetts Attorney General and FHFA beginning in 2012 in which the state has demanded that FHFA direct the GSEs to change their anti-fraud “arms-length” requirements that apply to short sales and REO transactions. Read More
There has been considerable recent discussion in the mortgage servicing industry regarding the increasing hurdles to transfers of residential mortgage servicing rights. Those hurdles include additional scrutiny from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Housing Finance Agency, and state regulators. In the past week, each of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued updates to their servicing transfer requirements moving up the due dates for requests for approvals of servicing transfers, making it more difficult to consummate quick transfers. The new requirements don’t create new standards for approval of transfers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac servicing rights, but they do add a bit more procedural difficulty for such transfers. Read More
On May 4-7, 2014 the Mortgage Bankers Association will hold its annual Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference in San Diego, CA. Several K&L Gates partners from the Consumer Financial Services Group will be presenting at the conference.
Melanie Brody will address “A Look Ahead: HMDA and Fair Lending” on Sunday, May 4, at 4:35 pm.
Krista Cooley will participate on a panel on Tuesday, May 6, at 3:15 pm, entitled “False Claims, Indemnifications, Repurchases and Rescissions.” She will discuss how the False Claims Act is affecting participants in HUD’s Federal Housing Administration loan program.
Andrew Glass will speak on Sunday, May 4, at 1:50 pm in the Litigation Forum on Fair Lending, explaining the status of fair lending/servicing litigation, and specifically the status of challenges to the disparate impact rule, the status of the municipal lawsuits against banks for “predatory” lending, and the HUD complaints by NFHA challenging the maintenance of properties held in REO.
Paul Hancock will address fair lending issues on Tuesday, May 6, at 1:30 pm.
Kris Kully will discuss Dodd-Frank Act amendments to RESPA and TILA on the ever-popular “Essentials: Alphabet Soup of Federal Laws,” on Sunday, May 4, at 1:50 pm.
Larry Platt will speak on Monday, May 5, at 3:15 pm on the “Deep Dive” panel for QRM, the Future of the Secondary Market, and GSE Reform.
Phil Schulman will participate on the panel entitled “A Look Ahead: TILA/RESPA,” on Sunday, May 4, at 3:15 p.m., and then will continue the discussion on the integrated disclosure forms on Monday, May 5, at the “Deep Dive: RESPA/TILA” panel at 3:15 pm.
Nanci Weissgold will present on two panels at the conference. On Sunday, May 4, at 12:30 pm, Nanci will present on a panel entitled “Essentials: Servicing Rule,” focusing on the basics of the CFPB’s Mortgage Servicing Rules. Nanci also will provide more insights into the national servicing standards on the “Deep Dive: Servicing: New Rules, New Developments” panel to be held Monday, May 5, at 1:30 pm.
We look forward to seeing you in San Diego!