CFPB Deputy Director’s Remarks May Indicate Evolving Approach To Mortgage Rules Enforcement

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On June 18, CFPB Deputy Director Steve Antonakes opened the CFPB’s first public Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting with remarks about implementation of the CFPB’s mortgage rules and the Bureau’s approach to enforcing those rules.

Over the past year, the CFPB has attempted to publicly outline and clarify its expectations for mortgage originators and servicers as those companies seek to comply with a host of new rules and requirements while continuing to face significant market challenges. The CFPB’s initial public position, particularly with regard to the new servicing rules, was that “in the early months” after the rules took effect, the CFPB would not look for strict compliance, but rather would assess whether institutions have made “good faith efforts” to come into “substantial compliance.”

Mr. Antonakes made news in February when he attempted to clarify that position in remarks to a Mortgage Bankers Association conference. There he stated “[s]ervicers have had more than a year now to work on implementation” of “basic practices of customer service that should have been implemented long ago” and that “[a] good faith effort . . . does not mean servicers have the freedom to harm consumers.” He went on to state that “[m]ortgage servicing rule compliance is a significant priority for the Bureau. Accordingly, we will be vigilant about overseeing and enforcing these rules.”

Mr. Antonakes took a somewhat softer tone in his remarks during the CAB meeting, stating that the CFPB’s goal “is not some one-sided aim to maximize consumer protection or industry deterrence at all costs.” He cautioned that “there is such a thing as doing too much” and explained that the Bureau’s true goal is to find “an appropriate balance where incentives for homeowners, creditors, and servicers are aligned.”

The CFPB has not announced any public enforcement actions related to its new mortgage rules. And the Bureau’s goal of aligning incentives is not necessarily inconsistent with Mr. Antonakes’s past remarks about vigilant enforcement. Although servicers—and originators—may take some solace in the shift in tone, by any measure the “early months” of implementation are coming to a close and the CFPB’s actual compliance and enforcement stance may only become apparent through its mortgage examinations and enforcement actions.

 


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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