As the country grapples with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial service providers should hold fast to the adage that those who forget the past are destined to repeat it. The last financial crisis centered in large part on the mortgage industry, both in its inception and its slow climb to stabilization. Like the last crisis, a growing percentage of homeowners are not able to make their mortgage payments, requiring loan servicers to employ various loss mitigation tools to reduce individual’s financial hardships. While the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting nearly all sectors of the economy, the mortgage industry can look back to past experiences to help mitigate present and future risks. If past is prologue, one risk likely to increase in the coming months is class action litigation.Read More
On 27 April 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed Senate Bill 2645, “An Act Providing for Virtual Notarization to Address Challenges Related to COVID-19” (the Act) into law. With the enactment of this law, Massachusetts joins the other five New England states—Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont—in temporarily permitting remote notarization through the use of videoconferencing technology . Like the remote notarization provisions in effect across the region, the Act allows individuals and businesses to get documents notarized while complying with social distancing and other health and safety guidelines.Read More
The rapid spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) has caused unprecedented disruptions to the U.S. economy, both at the state and national levels.
On March 10, 2020, the Governor of Massachusetts declared a State of Emergency, imposed stringent social distancing measures, and ordered all “non-essential” businesses to cease in-person operations. While these measures were intended to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, they also have caused many Massachusetts residents to experience significant financial hardships.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
On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act” or “Act”), a $2.2 trillion stimulus package designed to mitigate the widespread economic effects of the novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”). The Act includes several temporary modifications to chapter 7 and chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. This alert details these modifications.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
The Ninth Circuit recently limited the availability of diversity jurisdiction for certain cases with claims involving mortgage loan modifications. Specifically, in Corral v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc., the Ninth Circuit held that, where the plaintiff-borrower “seeks only a temporary stay of foreclosure pending review of a loan modification application … the value of the property or amount of indebtedness are not the amounts in controversy.” — F.3d —-, 2017 WL 6601872, at *1 (9th Cir. Dec. 27, 2017). Rather, to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement in such cases, parties must demonstrate that the value of the temporary delay in foreclosure exceeds $75,000, “such as the transactional costs to the lender of delaying foreclosure or a fair rental value of the property during pendency of the injunction” (in addition to any compensatory damages plaintiffs may be seeking). Id. at *5.
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!