Business Law Articles
By: Caren D. Enloe, Esq.
Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, LLP
Raleigh, North Carolina
Since TRID was introduced, a debate has raged on as to whether the Truth in Lending Act’s (TILA) liability rules or RESPA’s would govern TRID violations. The debate has key ramifications: under TILA, there is a private right of action. Under RESPA, there is not. In a letter to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the CFPB has provided some answers to the debate while attempting to provide some assurances to the mortgage industry. The results are a mixed bag.
The letter comes in response to concerns raised by the Mortgage Bankers Association as to secondary market rejection of mortgages which may contain technical TRID violations. As to the secondary market, the CFPB assured that the Federal Housing Finance Agency, government sponsored entities, and the Federal Housing Administration will not conduct routine post purchase loan file reviews for technical compliance and do not intend to exercise contractual remedies, including repurchase, for noncompliance with TRID’s disclosure rules where the lender is making good faith efforts to comply. The CFPB also reiterated that initial examinations by regulators for compliance with TRID will focus on “whether companies have made good faith efforts come into compliance with the rule.” Examinations would be “corrective and diagnostic, rather than punitive.”
More importantly, the letter provided some helpful clarification of the CFPB’s interpretation of TRID liability and suggests that TILA’s provisions will control:
- TRID provides for curing of certain errors post-closing by issuing a correct Closing Disclosure. The letter reminds that “consistent with existing Truth in Lending Act (TILA) principles, liability for statutory and class action damages would be assessed with reference to the final closing disclosure issued, not to the loan estimate, meaning that a corrected closing disclosure could, in many cases, forestall any such private liability”; and
- TILA provides a safe harbor to lenders for correction of errors, and that provision applies to TRID. Under 15 U.S.C. 1640(b), lenders may cure violations provided the creditor notifies the borrower of the error and makes appropriate adjustments to the account before the creditor receives notice of the violation from the borrower.
- For non high-cost mortgages, there is no general TILA liability unless the violation is apparent on the face of the disclosure documents and the assignment is voluntary.
Limitations on Liability:
- “TILA limits statutory damages for mortgage disclosures, in both individual and class actions for failure to provide a closed-set of disclosures”;
- “Formatting errors and the like are unlikely to give rise to private liability unless the formatting interferes with the clear and conspicuous disclosure of one of the TILA disclosures listed as giving rise to statutory and class actions damages in 15 U.S.C. 1640(a); and
- “The listed disclosures in 15 U.S.C. 1640(a) that give rise to statutory and class action damages do not include either the RESPA disclosures or the new Dodd-Frank Act disclosures, including the Total Cash to Close and Total Interest Percentage.”
Bona Fide Errors:
- TILA’s provisions for unintentional, bona fide errors applies to TRID.
While there has been significant debate as to whether RESPA or TILA would control the liability functions of TRID, Cordray’s letter suggests that the answer is TILA. While that is not entirely good news for the mortgage industry (as RESPA contains no private right action), the CFPB has at least provided some indication of their intentions and with a path in front of it, the mortgage industry can now better assess and manage risk.
For more information about Smith Debnam Narron Drake Saintsing & Myers, LLP, please visit the International Society of Primerus Law Firms.