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 behalf of the American Bankers Association, Consumer Bankers Association, and Housing Policy Council, 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”) on October 18, 2019, addressing the proposed amendments to HUD’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard. The preamble to the proposed rule states that HUD “proposes to amend” its disparate impact regulation “to better reflect the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling 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 limitations on, disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. The comment explains that the proposed amendments properly reflect binding precedent and provide necessary guidance regarding the application of the law, and supports the amendments in HUD’s Proposed Rule, with some suggested modifications. A copy of the comment is available here.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
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.
K&L Gates LLP recently presented the views of the major banking and lending trade associations, as amici curiae, in a federal challenge to HUD’s Fair Housing Act disparate-impact rule. The views expressed are those of the American Bankers Association, the American Financial Services Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Consumer Mortgage Coalition, the Financial Services Roundtable, the Independent Community Bankers of America®, and the Mortgage Bankers Association. The HUD rule challenge is likely to have a far-reaching effect on the housing industry and affiliated sectors of the economy. The lending industry argued that the HUD rule fails to comply with binding Supreme Court precedent governing disparate-impact claims. Moreover, HUD—which lacks the power to legislate—impermissibly adopted a legal standard that Congress enacted for a different civil rights law. And compounding its error, HUD cherry-picked only the plaintiff-friendly portions of that standard while ignoring substantial limitations Congress had imposed. Amici filed their brief to assist the trial court in understanding the full potential effect of the HUD disparate-impact rule, urging the court to overturn the rule.
To read the full alert, click here.
Servicers of mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) can breathe a sigh of relief—at least for now. Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) withdrew part of a recently proposed regulation that would have required FHA-approved servicers to file a claim for FHA insurance benefits within a certain period of time or else face termination of the FHA insurance policy. HUD stated that it withdrew the proposal to establish a claim filing deadline “[i]n response to public comments expressing concern over the implementation of the proposed provisions[.]”
On Thursday, September 24, 2015, the CFPB and DOJ filed a complaint and proposed consent order against Hudson City Savings Bank (“Hudson City”) alleging violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Fair Housing Act. The complaint alleges that Hudson City discriminated against Black and Hispanic borrowers by redlining majority-Black-and-Hispanic neighborhoods (defined in the consent order as a census tract in which more than 50 percent of the residents are identified in the 2010 U.S. Census as either “Black or African American” or “Hispanic or Latino”) in its residential mortgage lending in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The complaint alleges that Hudson City engaged in redlining through its (1) location of branches and loan officers, (2) exclusion of Black and Hispanic census tracts from its Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) assessment area, (3) use of brokers outside of majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, (4) marketing directed at neighborhoods with relatively few minority residents, and (5) exclusion of residents from majority-minority counties from discounted home improvement loans for borrowers with low to moderate incomes.
If there is anything that galls servicers of government-insured loans, it is the forfeiture or curtailment of all accrued interest from mortgage insurance claims resulting from the failure to foreclose fast enough within artificially created state time lines. At first glance, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD” or the “Department”) listened to the complaints of servicers who argued that they should not be penalized for pursuing foreclosure avoidance options or experiencing delays in the legal system beyond their control. HUD’s proposed regulation regarding changes to the Federal Housing Administration’s (“FHA”) single-family mortgage insurance claim filing process includes proposals that pro rate the curtailment of interest based on actual delays caused by the servicer, proposing to eliminate the complete forfeiture of accrued interest for only one day of delay. So far, so good, but HUD did not stop there. HUD also proposed the complete extinguishment of an FHA insurance policy if the servicer does not complete foreclosure within a new set of artificial time lines. Read together, HUD’s reform is to provide servicers with more accrued interest if they do not foreclose fast enough, unless, of course, HUD invalidates the whole insurance policy—the loss of both principal and interest—by virtue of HUD’s subjective definition of unreasonable delays. Few servicers think that is progress.
This proposal raises significant questions and concerns for FHA mortgagees that hold and service FHA-insured loans, many of which could have a chilling effect on FHA lending and servicing activities if HUD were to implement the proposed claim filing deadline as proposed and without significant changes to HUD’s claim filing guidelines and procedures.
Grab a flotation device – the final decision recently issued by Director Richard Cordray of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) in the administrative enforcement proceedings against PHH Corp. (“PHH”) has rocked the boat for the real estate settlement services industry as portions of the decision run directly counter to decades of legal precedent, and the prior writings and Policy Statements issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) – the federal agency previously tasked with interpreting the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”) and enforcing its provisions. As K&L Gates summarized in its June 22, 2015 Alert, the decision addresses a number of topics, including Director Cordray’s interpretation of several provisions of the federal RESPA. And while many of the CFPB’s views and interpretations attempt to expand the scope of RESPA’s reach and are subject to criticism, one of the most significant developments is Director Cordray’s conclusion that Section 8(c)(2) of RESPA is not the type of safe harbor that has long been widely accepted.
On May 26, 2015, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD” or the “Department”) announced an approximately $200 million settlement with Associated Bank resolving allegations that the bank engaged in racial redlining in violation of the Fair Housing Act.