Thursday, August 18, 2022

July 2020 OBA Legal Briefs

  • Mortgage maturity date, 46 O.S. § 301
  • Appraisal update
  • Reg E error claims and ‘unjust enrichment’
  • HMDA thresholds
  • More on the death of savings transfer limits

Mortgage maturity date, 46 O.S. § 301

By Pauli D. Loeffler

One of the more frequently asked questions the OBA Legal and Compliance Team receives concerns when a Notice of Extension/Modification of Mortgage must be recorded when a loan secured by real estate is renewed or extended.

Let’s say the bank secures a one-year single-pay note or a 5-year balloon note with a 15- or 20-year amortization with a mortgage. The bank renews these notes annually or when the balloon becomes due. Does the bank have to record a Notice of Extension/Modification of Mortgage? This is where § 301 is relevant.

If the maturity date is stated (i.e., October 1, 2020) or ascertainable (e.g., 60 monthly payments), then Sec. 301 provides:

B. Beginning November 1, 2001, no suit, action or proceeding to foreclose or otherwise enforce the remedies in any mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust shall be had or maintained after the expiration of seven (7) years from the date the last maturing obligation secured by such mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust becomes due as set out therein, and such mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust shall cease to be a lien, unless the holder of such mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust, within the seven-year period, files or causes to be filed of record a written Notice of Extension as provided in paragraph 1 of subsection D of this section.

D.

1. The Notice of Extension required under subsection A [Note: Subsection A deals with mortgages filed before and after October 1, 1981.] or B of this section, to be effective for the purpose of this section, shall show the date of recording, the book and page and the legal description of the property covered by the mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust and the time for which the payment of the obligation secured thereby is extended, and shall be duly verified by oath and acknowledged by the holder of the mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust.

If the one-year single-pay with a stated maturity or ascertainable maturity date is renewed/extended annually, foreclosure will not be available if the suit is brought unless a Notice of Extension/Modification of Mortgage is recorded on or before October 1, 2027. The bank will also have to pay additional mortgage tax and tax certification fee when it records the Notice of Extension if the bank originally only paid mortgage tax for one year. If the 5-year balloon mortgage is renewed for another 5 years, foreclosure will not be available unless the foreclosure is filed on or before October 1, 2032. In this case, no additional mortgage tax would not need to be paid when the Notice of Extension is recorded provided there is no new money out, but only the tax certification fee.

What if there is no stated or ascertainable maturity date in the mortgage? In that case, the following applies:

C. No suit, action or proceeding to foreclose or otherwise enforce the remedies in any mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust filed of record in the office of the county clerk, in which the due date of the last maturing obligation secured by such mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust cannot be ascertained from the written terms thereof, shall be had or maintained after the expiration of thirty (30) years from the date of recording of the mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust, and said mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust shall cease to be a lien, unless the holder of such mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust either:

2. After October 1, 1981, and within the above described thirty-year period, files or causes to be filed of record a written Notice of Maturity Date as provided in paragraph 2 of subsection D of this section.

D.

2. The Notice of Maturity Date required under subsection C of this section, to be effective for the purpose of this section, shall show the date of recording, the book and page and the legal description of the property covered by the mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust and the maturity date to which the last maturing obligation secured thereby is extended, and shall be duly verified by oath and acknowledged by the holder of the mortgage, contract for deed or deed of trust.

In other words, if no maturity date is stated or ascertainable in the mortgage, you do not have to file a Notice of Extension, but if you continually renew/extend the note so the last payment is more than 30 years after the date of the mortgage, you will need to record Notice of Maturity Date/Modification of Mortgage and pay the tax certification fee in order to foreclose the mortgage. No mortgage tax will be owed if there is no new money out since any mortgage without a stated or ascertainable maturity date is taxed at the maximum 5-year amount when recorded.

Finally, please be aware that although the remedy of foreclosure may be lost, that does not mean the bank has lost the ability to collect on the note. § 3-118 of the UCC provides:

(a) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, an action to enforce the obligation of a party to pay a note payable at a definite time must be commenced within six (6) years after the due date or dates stated in the note or, if a due date is accelerated, within six (6) years after the accelerated due date.

In other words, you can still obtain a judgment on the note and record the judgment to have lien on the real estate, however, it is of dubious present value if the real estate is the exempt from forced execution (i.e., it is homestead), or if there are other prior mortgages or judgments that have attached to the real estate.

Appraisal Update

By Andy Zavoina

Reg B Appraisals – The CFPB offered two factsheets at the end of April 2020 pertaining to Reg B and appraisal requirements. One of the factsheets addressed the requirements to provide an applicant a copy of an appraisal and when (https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_ecoa-valuation_delivery-of-appraisals-factsheet.pdf), while the second addressed loan requests covered by the rule. (https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_ecoa-valuation_transaction-coverage-factsheet.pdf). The latter was updated and replaced on May 14, 2020, as the initial factsheet seemed confusing to many. Again, a good reason to search for updated documents.

These Reg B rules apply when a credit application (consumer or commercial) is secured by a first lien on a dwelling. A “dwelling” is a 1-4 family, residential unit. There are two prongs in that test, lien position and collateral. The initial factsheet included examples which did not in fact meet the definition. As an example it listed a 10-unit residential structure with three of the units securing the loan. The 1-4-units test is applied to the structure, not the number of units securing the loan. The revised factsheet correctly uses as one example a 4-unit condo with two units securing the loan. This will meet the 1-4-unit criterion and presumably the loan will have a first lien. The CFPB deleted the 10-unit residential structure example and changed a 30-unit residential structure example to a 4-unit structure in the revision. Ensure you have updated your files and retract any of the replaced documents you may have distributed or made available to your lenders and loan processors.

The original April 29, 2020, factsheet on the delivery of appraisal is fine and is suitable for distribution as a training document. It discusses delivery methods, timelines, and compliance issues.

The corrected fact sheet dated May 14, 2020, is useful as it helps define when an application for credit exists, lien status, and when an appraisal or valuation is developed in connection with an application. It too could act as a training document.

Reg E error claims and ‘unjust enrichment’

By Andy Zavoina

Reg E is a consumer protection regulation and one of the ways that is made clear is under § 1005.11, Procedures for Resolving Errors. In short, this section provides that if your consumer customer discovers the loss of their debit card or sees one or more transactions they claim they neither did, authorized nor benefitted from, they have what Reg E considers an error, an unauthorized electronic fund transfer. Naturally, the consumer will want this money back.

To shatter a few myths very quickly, there is no statute of limitations for a consumer to make this claim and they could be entitled to a complete refund even if this claim is made years later. It depends on the circumstances of the claim. There is also no such thing as “friendly fraud” and if a spouse, parent, child, or coworker steals money from your customer’s account electronically, the claim is not disqualified unless that person is also a joint accountholder with them. There also is no requirement that the claim be made in writing. A simple oral notification starts the bank’s response clock. In general, the first timeframe that is available for the consumer to recover their funds under Reg E is 10 business days.

The error resolution process begins with your consumer advising the bank of their claim. The clock starts and the bank has to deny or pay the claim in a short period of time. In this process the bank gathers information from the consumer and from anyone involved such as a merchant or ATM owner, as the attempt is made to verify who made the withdrawal and under what circumstances.

Let’s assume this claim is a charge at a retailer that the consumer says was processed twice when only one widget was bought. If the bank cannot resolve the claim within the first 10 business days, the bank is faced with paying a provisional credit to extend the investigation period. To do this, if the bank requested a written claim and it has been received, the bank will notify the consumer that a provisional credit will be made. If the bank did not require a written claim the consumer may still be entitled to this temporary credit. This credit is the amount of the transaction the consumer will be paid if the claim is approved. The consumer gets full use of these funds. There are no restrictions placed on them so they can pay bills, go on vacation, whatever they desire. This minimizes disruptions to their lives and allows them to pay their bills hopefully still on time while the bank completes the process. This is why Reg E is considered consumer protection and sometimes it is considered unfair to the bank. In our example, the retailer has more time to respond on this double-charge claim than the bank has to respond to the consumer in the 10-business day period. With no response or affirmation from the retailer the claim is provisionally paid. The bank can now take up to 90 calendar days under Reg E to resolve a Point of Sale claim. If the bank opts to close the claim and finalize the credit before the 90 days is up, the credit is made final and as a valid claim, the bank sends a written notification to this affect, and the case is closed.

Had the claim been denied, there is no allowance in Reg E for the consumer to present new facts and force the bank to reconsider it. The bank may accept new information but is not required to do so. Reg E allows that after all these steps, final is considered final. The rules for the bank are the same. Once the bank says this is final, final is final.

Now let’s assume in the example claim that a retailer has now realized there was in fact a double charge and it has sent a credit back to the consumer’s account in an attempt to make them “whole.” Wait – the bank has already made the consumer whole when it paid the claim. The consumer is now getting paid twice and would be profiting from this process. We know that is not fair, and since the bank has the debit and the consumer has the credit, it can take back that credit amount which it had already paid, right?

Reg E does not have a section or narrative that directly addresses this question, so we must break down certain requirements in the regulation to get an answer. Under § 1005.11(d) the regulations describes when a provisional credit may be reversed, stating “if it determines that no error occurred or that an error occurred in a manner or amount different from that described by the consumer.” The bank has already determined there was in fact an error. There is no section which states that after a claim is found to be valid and closed, that if the consumer is then paid by the retailer, that a bank can “unfinalize” the claim and recoup the money it has paid. Remember, final is final for the bank and the consumer. Some readers are now saying that constitutes unjust enrichment and it is not fair. I would agree on both counts.

Unjust enrichment is a legal principle where one person receives a benefit which is not owed to them, at the expense of someone else. But it takes a court to determine if unjust enrichment has occurred so the bank would need to sue the customer in civil court to use this remedy. The bank has no authority to setoff in this example.

What can be done? First, the bank can take the allowed time according to §1005.11(c) when there are potential variables outstanding such as waiting the 90 calendar days to see if the retailer sends a credit. Second, the bank can notify the consumer that they have been paid twice on the same claim and ask them to either send the bank a check or contact the bank and confirm the bank may debit the account. The wording of such a request is up to the bank.

Those who believe that Reg E is silent on this debit issue and therefore approves it by virtue of not prohibiting it must realize that there is no specific authorization allowing it and the bank risks violating Reg E with a debit. Reg E is not silent on this elsewhere in the regulation. The remittance transfer section of Reg E (§§ 1005.30-1005.36) has its own definition of errors and resolution procedures. It also includes the following additional information in Comment 33(f)-3 in the Official Interpretations:

Assertion of same error with multiple parties. If a sender receives credit to correct an error of an incorrect amount paid in connection with a remittance transfer from either the remittance transfer provider or account-holding institution (or creditor), and subsequently asserts the same error with another party, that party has no further responsibilities to investigate the error if the error has been corrected. For example, assume that a sender initially asserts an error with a remittance transfer provider with respect to a remittance transfer alleging that US$130 was debited from his checking account, but the sender only requested a remittance transfer for US$100, plus a US$10 transfer fee. If the remittance transfer provider refunds US$20 to the sender to correct the error, and the sender subsequently asserts the same error with his account-holding institution, the account-holding institution has no error resolution responsibilities under Regulation E because the error has been fully corrected. In addition, nothing in this section prevents an account-holding institution or creditor from reversing amounts it has previously credited to correct an error if a sender receives more than one credit to correct the same error. For example, assume that a sender concurrently asserts an error with his or her account-holding institution and remittance transfer provider for the same error, and the sender receives credit from the account-holding institution for the error within 45 days of the notice of error. If the remittance transfer provider subsequently provides a credit of the same amount to the sender for the same error, the account-holding institution may reverse the amounts it had previously credited to the consumer’s account, even after the 45-day error resolution period under § 1005.11. (Emphasis added.)

If such a provision is included in the remittance rules, it could have easily been added to § 1005.11(d) during revisions as well, but it was not. Absent a legal authority to setoff this double credit and based on the language which is in § 1005.11, I will not advise a bank to take it upon itself to enforce any claims it has against unjust enrichment, even if they have been successful doing so in the past. Reg E is a consumer protection regulation, and final is final. Not understanding this is taking on more risk than the setoff is worth.

HMDA thresholds

By Andy Zavoina

Did the second half of 2020 suddenly get freed up for your bank? In May 2020 the CFPB published a final rule to amend HMDA/Reg C. The transactional coverage thresholds for closed end mortgages and open-end lines of credit were increased permanently. That is, it should not fluctuate periodically as temporary limits were imposed and would expire. This change was effective July 1, 2020, for closed-end mortgages, so if your volume for these credits was low, you may have some free time on your hands. The new rule for the open-end lines will take effect January 1, 2022.

Closed-end mortgages – If your bank originated fewer than 100 closed-end mortgages in each of the two preceding calendar years, you qualify for this exemption. Effective July 1, 2020, this loan count increased from 25 to 100, so looking at your HMDA reports for 2018 and 2019, if these were under 100 you will not have to submit a 2020 HMDA file. Originally the proposal for this change would have been effective in 2021 meaning there would be a 2020 report. But the final rule backed the effective date up to mid-year; banks with smaller volumes will be relieved of Loan Application Register (LAR) requirements for the second half of the year and will not be required to file a LAR on January – June mortgage applications. Only the first quarter 2020 applications need to be finalized on the LAR and with verified accuracy. Finalizing the second quarter entries is not required. If your bank wants to continue LAR data collection under the HMDA rules and wants to file the annual report in 2021, it is free to do so.

Open-end lines – The current threshold of 500 open-end lines of credit will remain in effect until the new permanent threshold takes effect on January 1, 2022. On that date, this number would have reverted to 100, but that has changed. Your bank will be exempt from coverage under the new HMDA rule if it originated fewer than 200 open-end lines of credit in each of the two preceding calendar years.

Ongoing Requirements – Your bank needs to determine if it wants to continue the HMDA LAR for the last half of 2020. If the 2018 count was less than 100 but 2019 was over and 2020 is on pace to do the same, it makes sense to continue LAR tabulations rather than stop and re-start.

This data is always useful for CRA purposes and substantiating your mortgage fair lending efforts.

National banks may not be out of the woods yet, at least not completely. As a HMDA bank the LAR and other HMDA requirements were a substitute for requirements of 12 CFR part 27, the Fair Housing Home Loan Data System. If your bank is no longer a HMDA bank, if it received 50 or more home loan applications during the previous calendar year it may choose either of these two recordkeeping systems:

1. Maintain HMDA-like records, or
2. Record and maintain for each decision center, using the Monthly Home Loan Activity Format,

• the number of applications received
• the number of loans closed
• the number of loans denied
• the number of loans withdrawn

This information (a “raw count of applications”) must be updated within 30 days of each calendar quarter end. It may be assembled at each branch and tallied up for the bank as a whole.

A national bank that is exempt from coverage (it has fewer than the 50 loans required) will be covered for the next month following any quarter in which it receives an average of more than four home loan applications per month. It will be exempt again after two consecutive quarters of receiving four or fewer home loan applications in each quarter.

If your national bank is required to gather data for this, other than the “raw count of applications” there are many data items which are needed to be collected or attempted to be collected. Most of these items found under 12 CFR part 27 will be on the typical Uniform Residential Loan Application.

More on the death of savings transfer limits

By John S. Burnett

When I last wrote on this topic (May 2020), there were some unanswered questions concerning the Federal Reserve Board’s elimination of the transfer and withdrawal limits on savings accounts in section 204.2(d)(2) of its Regulation D. In this follow-up, I hope to out those questions to bed.

Quick background

On April 24, 2020, the Board issued an interim final rule revising the definitions of “savings deposit” and “transaction account” in Regulation D. The Board also issued a series of FAQs on its action. Our May Legal Briefs article, “Are savings transfer limits dead?” focused on the changed definitions and the Board’s “Savings Deposits Frequently Asked Questions” at the end of April.

At that time, there was discussion in the industry about whether the Fed’s action was permanent or—to borrow its own term—simply a “suspension” of the Fed’s use of reserve requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis. There were also questions concerning whether depository institutions should plan to reinstate transfer limits on their savings deposits at some time in the future, and whether the new definition of transaction account would require banks to extend their coverage of Regulation CC to deposits made to savings accounts.

After our May 2020 article went to press, the Fed Board updated the Savings Deposits FAQs (the webpage shows it was updated May 13, 2020).

Temporary or permanent?

In the May 13 FAQs, the Board explains that the changes to Regulation D that reduced the reserve percentages to 0% and changed the definitions of savings deposits and transaction accounts were driven by the Federal Open Market Committee’s selection of an “ample reserve regime” as its monetary policy framework, eliminating the need for required reserve percentages and transfer limits for savings deposits. FAQ #3 says, in part (with emphasis added), “The [Federal Open Market] Committee’s choice of a monetary policy framework is not a short-term choice. The Board does not have plans to re-impose transfer limits but may make adjustments to the definition of savings accounts in response to comments received on the Board’s interim final rule and, in the future, if conditions warrant.”

There is no longer any reason to believe that the Board’s action to eliminate required reserves and remove the transfer limits is temporary. We can safely say, I believe, that transfer limits are dead, as a regulatory requirement. There is, however, nothing to prevent a bank from continuing the previous limits or adopting different limits on transfers. In other words, it is the bank’s decision to make.

Will Regulation CC apply to savings accounts

Question and answer 13, added in the May 13, 2020, update to the “Savings Deposits FAQ,” addressed whether the revised Regulation D definition of “transaction account” in § 204.2(e), which now includes accounts described in § 204.2(d)(2) (savings deposits) will affect the definition of “account” in Regulation CC. The answer (with emphasis added) says:

“Regulation CC provides that an ‘account’ subject to Regulation CC includes accounts described in 12 CFR 204.2(e) (transaction accounts) but excludes accounts described in 12 CFR 204.2(d)(2) (savings deposits). Because Regulation CC continues to exclude accounts described in 12 CFR 204.2(d)(2) from the Reg CC ‘account’ definition, the recent amendments to Regulation D did not result in savings deposits or accounts described in 12 CFR 204.2(d)(2) now being covered by Regulation CC.

Unless the Regulation CC definition of “account” is amended to include savings deposits (or your bank has contractually agreed to include savings deposits as covered by the bank’s Funds Availability Policy), savings deposits (including MMDAs) are excluded from coverage.

Keeping savings deposits separate

Although the Fed Board indicates in its “Savings Deposits FAQ” that it won’t matter whether a bank reports savings accounts on their FR 2900 reports as savings deposits or transaction accounts (see FAQ #5) that report will continue to be required because the Fed still needs to know deposit account levels for other reasons, even though it won’t use the amounts to determine required reserve balances.

While how savings deposits are reported on the FR 2900 won’t concern the Fed, banks must still keep their savings and transaction account amounts separate for purposes of their quarterly Call Reports. New instructions have been issued for the June 30 (second quarter) Call Report for 2020, and they continue to require that savings deposits and transaction account balances be reported separately. See FDIC FIL 60-2020, Revisions to the Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income (Call Report) and the FFIEC 101 Report.

Note: The ABA has raised concerns about the “blurring of distinctions” between savings and transaction accounts, saying that other rules depend on the separate definitions. The ABA went so far as to ask the Fed to determine whether Regulation D is needed any longer or should be modernized. They also asked the Fed to decide whether the FR 2900 serves any purpose now.

Returning to savings transaction limits

As noted earlier, banks that have elected (or will elect) to suspend (rather than terminate permanently) their limits on savings transfer and withdrawal activity won’t be required to reinstate those limits, but may determine that a return to some transfer and/or withdrawal limits is desirable for reasons other than complying with a regulation.

If that is the case, the limits can be less confusing and more readily automated than the limits under pre-April 24, 2020, Regulation D requirements. “Six” need not be the “magic number” in any such decision. A bank can also throw out the old requirement that repeated breaches of the limits must result in termination of transfer capabilities, account closure, or conversion of the account to a transaction account. The penalty for excessive transfers or withdrawals can be as simple as a fee imposed on the account. If the limits are further simplified to drop the “old rule” distinction between “convenient” and “inconvenient” transfers/withdrawals, simple pricing can replace all the monitoring and enforcement required by the old rule, including those Reg D letters to errant customers!

Imagine reducing all the old cost and effort to something like “Fee for each transfer or withdrawal from the account per month (first 8 waived): $XX.00.”