The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari to decide whether the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”) excludes loan guarantors from the definition of “applicants” entitled to bring suit under the Act. See Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore, No. 14-520 (U.S. Mar. 2, 2015). Specifically, the Court will decide whether the Federal Reserve Board exceeded its authority in its 2003 amendment to Regulation B, the regulation implementing ECOA, to purportedly bring guarantors within the ambit of ECOA’s protection. The Court’s decision may have far-reaching implications for lenders extending credit guaranteed by a non-borrower.
Financial life just got a little bit easier for stay-at-home moms and dads. For over a year and a half, regulations originally promulgated by the Federal Reserve (and reissued by the CFPB) have restricted credit access for “spouses and partners who do not work outside the home,” based on an interpretation of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (the “CARD Act”) that required a creditor to consider a card applicant’s “independent” ability to repay any credit extended. On May 3, the CFPB finalized amendments to Regulation Z that loosen the credit card underwriting standards, allowing consumers over age 21 to qualify based on any income to which they have a “reasonable expectation of access.” By acknowledging that the practical aspects of interfamily relationships may sometimes support a determination that a consumer has an ability to repay even when the consumer may not have a formal legal right to the underlying income or assets, the Bureau acquiesced to the requests of a broad-based coalition of politicians, consumer groups, and credit card issuers to remove an artificial barrier to the ability of stay-at-home spouses and partners to obtain and build credit.
Although Congress mandated the sunset of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) in the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress effectively codified many of its requirements, including the obligation to furnish a copy of an appraisal to borrowers. To implement this statutory change to ECOA, the CFPB proposes to amend Regulation B to make the furnishing of “any and all written appraisals and valuations” developed in connection with the application for a first-lien loan mandatory, rather than at the consumer’s request. Comments to the ECOA proposed rule are due on October 15, 2012.