The Federal Reserve Board has issued an interim final rule under Regulation Z to implement the recent Truth in Lending Act (TILA) amendment that requires new owners and assignees of mortgage loans to notify consumers of the sale or transfer. While the new rule was published and made effective on November 20, 2009, the TILA requirement has been in effect since the May 20, 2009, enactment of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009. Compliance with the specifics of the new rule is optional until January 19, 2010. As a result, new owners may (but need not) rely on the new rule immediately to ensure they are in compliance with TILA. Violations give rise to liability for statutory damages, including up to $4,000 per violation in individual actions or up to $500,000 in a class action.

The transfer notice requirement applies to all closed-end and open-end consumer-purpose mortgage loans secured by a consumer's principal residence. It requires any person that acquires more than one mortgage loan in any 12-month period to provide a transfer notice without regard to whether the new owner would otherwise be a "creditor" subject to TILA. Mere servicers of mortgage loans and investors in mortgage-backed securities or other interests in pooled loans do not acquire legal title to loans and are not subject to the new rule. However, trusts or other entities acquiring legal title to the securitized loans are subject to the rule. The notice requirement is triggered by a transfer of the underlying loan, regardless of whether the assignment is recorded. Thus, assignees are not exempt from the duty to provide notice merely because the mortgage (as opposed to the note) is in the name of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), for example.

The new rule does not affect the separate notification requirement under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) for servicing transfers on mortgage loans. Accordingly, new owners who acquire both legal title to a mortgage loan and the servicing rights will need to satisfy both the TILA and RESPA notification requirements.

Other highlights of the new rule include the following:

  • The notice must be given on or before the 30th calendar date after the date the new owner acquires the loan, with the acquisition date deemed to be the date that the acquisition is recognized in the new owner’s books and records. In the case of short-term repurchase agreements, the acquirer is not required to give the notice if the transferor has not treated the transfer as a loan sale on its own books and records. However, if a repurchase does not occur, the acquirer must give the notice within 30 days after it recognizes the transfer as an acquisition on its books and records.
  • The notice must be given even where the new and former owners are affiliates, but a combined notice may be sent where one company acquires a loan and subsequently transfers it to another company so long as the content and timing requirements are satisfied as to both entities.
  • The notice must contain the information specified by the new rule, including contact information for any agents used by an owner to receive legal notices and resolve payment issues.
  • The required information also includes a disclosure of the location where ownership of the debt is recorded. If a transfer has not been recorded in the public records at the time the notice is provided, a new owner may satisfy this requirement by stating that fact.

Ballard Spahr's Consumer Financial Services Group is nationally recognized for its guidance in structuring and documenting new consumer financial services products, its experience with the full range of federal and state consumer credit laws throughout the country, and its skill in litigation defense and avoidance (including pioneering work in pre-dispute arbitration programs). For more information, please contact group Chair Alan S. Kaplinsky, 215.864.8544 or kaplinsky@ballardspahr.com; Vice Chair Jeremy T. Rosenblum, 215.864.8505 or rosenblum@ballardspahr.com; John L. Culhane, Jr., 215.864.8535 or culhane@ballardspahr.com; Barbara S. Mishkin, 215.864.8528 or mishkinb@ballardspahr.com; or Mark J. Furletti, 215.864.8138 or furlettim@ballardspahr.com.


Copyright © 2009 by Ballard Spahr LLP.
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This alert is a periodic publication of Ballard Spahr LLP and is intended to notify recipients of new developments in the law. It should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own attorney concerning your situation and specific legal questions you have.

Copyright © 2009 by Ballard Spahr LLP.(No claim to original U.S. government material.)

Copyright © 2009 by Ballard Spahr LLP.(No claim to original U.S. government material.)

Copyright © 2009 by Ballard Spahr LLP.(No claim to original U.S. government material.)