Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Know Your Rights: No More "Dual Tracking"

What is "dual tracking?"

Dual tracking is an ugly, insidious (and therefore unsurprisingly commonplace) practice where Big Bank X (insert name here) is actively negotiating a loan modification with a homeowner while pursuing a foreclosure against that same homeowner...at the same time.  The glaring inequity to this practice has long been a topic of vociferous objection among foreclosure defense attorneys and consumer rights advocates. Thankfully, corrective legislative protections are on the horizon.

Created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protect Act of 2010, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (or CFPB for short) will have broad--some say unparalleled--regulatory authority to create rules and enforce consumer protection laws that restrict unfair, deceptive or abusive acts and practices (commonly known as UDAAPs). One UDAAP that the CFPB is seeking to forever eliminate is the practice of dual tracking. Consequently, beginning in January of 2014, new CFPB rules will:

  • Require a lender or servicer to establish "live contact" with a delinquent borrower within 5 weeks of delinquency and inform the borrower in writing about available loan modification and other loss mitigation options by the 45th day following delinquency.
  • Prevent a lender or servicer from filing for foreclosure unless the borrower is more than 4 months delinquent.  
  • Prevent a lender or servicer from beginning a foreclosure once a delinquent homeowner submits a loan modification until after a written denial is sent to the homeowner and a 14-day appeal period has run or an appeal has been denied.  The new rules also require the lender or loan servicer “exercise reasonable diligence in obtaining documents and information to complete a loss mitigation" and for the lender/servicer to give the specific reasons for a denial in the denial notice.
  • Allow the homeowner to submit an application for a loan modification or other loss mitigation option at any time after the foreclosure process has commenced up to the 37th day before a scheduled foreclosure sale. Once the application is submitted, the servicer may not go through with a foreclosure sale until: (1) the servicer has notified the homeowner that he, she or they are not eligible for loss mitigation (and any appeal or appeal time has been exhausted); (2) the homeowner has rejected all proposals or offers of loss mitigation; or (3) the homeowner has violated or failed to comply with terms of a loss mitigation option such as making required payments under a trial modification plan.
In sum, these new CFPB rules are designed to ensure that lenders and servicers negotiate in good faith and in a timely manner before commencing a foreclosure action. Will these rules stop foreclosures? No. Will these rules have a positive impact on the number of foreclosures? One would hope so.

If nothing else, these new CFPB rules are certainly a step in the right direction.

For more information, please visit the CFPB website at consumerfinance.gov or visit our dedicated foreclosure defense website at garlandgriffiths.com.

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