CFPB Proposes Nationwide Foreclosure Moratorium

April 6, 2021 at 10:04 am Leave a comment

In one of the most aggressive claims of regulatory authority in decades, the CFPB proposed regulations yesterday that would sharply limit the ability to begin foreclosure actions until the end of the year. 

To make sure borrowers aren’t rushed into foreclosure when a potentially unprecedented number of borrowers exit forbearance at around the same time this fall, the proposed rule would provide a special pre-foreclosure review period that would generally prohibit servicers from starting foreclosure until after December 31, 2021.”

To accomplish this goal regulations would create a new temporary COVID-19 pre-foreclosure emergency review period that wouldn’t expire until the end of the year.  The regulation would be coupled with enhanced loss mitigation options.  For example, current regulation already requires servicers to attempt to make live contact with delinquent borrowers.  The proposed rule would amend these regulations to mandate that borrowers be told about COVID-19 loss mitigation options.  The new time period for evaluating loss mitigation options would effectively prohibit foreclosures. 

Where does the CFPB have the authority to impose this de facto moratorium? It points out in the legal authority section of the regulations preamble that § 1032 of the Dodd-Frank Act mandates that the Bureau “shall consider available evidence about consumer awareness, understanding of, and responses to disclosures or communications about the risks, costs, and benefits of consumer financial products or services.” 12 U.S.C. 5532(c).  It argues that researchers have pointed to a link between financial stress and poor decision making that a longer pre-foreclosure period would help address. 

For those of us in New York, the regulations wouldn’t be all that different than statutory requirements which our elected representatives voted on and chose to put in place.  In contrast, I have half-jokingly referred to the CFPB Director as the benign dictator of consumer protection law.  If this regulation is allowed to take effect, I won’t be joking anymore.  No elected representative voting to create the CFPB thought they were giving an unelected bureaucrat overseeing an independent agency the right to preempt state property law in the absence of explicit Congressional authority. 

To be clear, I am proud of working for an industry that by and large does everything it can to avoid foreclosures.  But, for those of you in support of the Bureau’s action remember, that there will someday be a Director in charge appointed by a president with whom you disagree.  Do you want him or her to be able to exercise this much power?

Entry filed under: COVID-19, Mortgage Lending, Regulatory. Tags: , , , .

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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