The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently proposed rules to help homeowners get better information from mortgage servicers and possibly avoid foreclosure. The rules are proposed under the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, the 2010 financial reform law, and the CFPB’s own authority under that law. After a period for public comment, the CFPB is expected to finalize the rules by January 2013.
By now, most Americans are familiar with the foreclosure crisis that struck after the collapse of the housing market six years ago. More recently, a new crisis became apparent with the news that many mortgage servicers — companies that handle mortgages and process payments on behalf of lenders — were engaging in illegal shortcuts, such as forging signatures and improperly executing documents. These wrongful practices were a major part of the “robo-signing” scandal. As a result, many homeowners were mistakenly or illegally foreclosed on.
Earlier this year, mortgage lenders agreed to adopt better practices and pay $25 billion for states to assist homeowners who lost or are threatened with losing their homes.
The CFPB’s new rules would promote transparency and accountability, requiring servicers to give homeowners the information they need to understand their options and make difficult decisions. The rules would require servicers to provide clear, accurate and standardized monthly accounting statements with itemized fees. The statements must warn borrowers of any imminent changes in the loan interest rate or insurance coverage.
The proposed rules would also help homeowners facing foreclosure by providing them with better information and more options. Mortgage servicers are required to make good faith efforts to inform delinquent borrowers of the risk of foreclosure, the availability of foreclosure counseling and options to avoid the loss of their homes. Servicers must maintain complete and up-to-date records to avoid the risk of mistaken and improper foreclosures.
In addition, servicers must investigate any errors within 30 days. Servicers are also required to make support staff more accessible to distressed borrowers who need assistance.
People struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments have options. Speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney about your situation and learn what solutions may be right for you and your family.