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February 2013 Bulletin Summaries

Federal Housing Funding Remains in Limbo
In the waning days of 2012, the 112th Congress failed to reach agreement on a comprehensive revenue and spending reduction package, instead enacting only H.R. 8, The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The Act contains provisions relating to expiring Bush-era tax cuts and other tax provisions, while postponing for 60 days the scheduled January 2, 2013, across-the-board cuts (via sequestration) of domestic discretionary and military spending. As a result, federal housing spending levels for fiscal year (FY) 2013 and beyond remain decidedly uncertain. This article provides background on the situation and an overview of its impact on housing programs.

CFPB Issues Rules to Curb Abusive Mortgage Servicing Practices
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has released final rules intended to protect borrowers from harmful actions by mortgage servicers and to provide borrowers with better tools and information when dealing with servicers. The rules will take effect on January 10, 2014. The servicing rules amend Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act, and Regulation X, which implements the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. As described in this article, the rules cover nine major topics and implement certain provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Qualified Mortgage Rules Seek to Protect Borrowers from Unaffordable Loans
The CFPB has issued a final rule to implement laws requiring mortgage lenders to consider borrowers’ ability to repay home loans before extending them credit. The rule will take effect on January 10, 2014. CFPB is also seeking comments on whether to adjust the final rule for certain community-based lenders, housing stabilization programs, certain refinancing programs of government-sponsored entities and federal agencies, and small portfolio creditors. This article provides an overview of the final rule’s provisions.

OCC and Federal Reserve Reach New Agreement with Servicers over Foreclosure Practices
On January 7, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency and the Federal Reserve Board announced an agreement in principle with 10 of the nation’s largest mortgage loan servicers. As a part of the settlement, the regulators also ended the Independent Foreclosure Review process. This article discusses the agreement and compares the Independent Foreclosure Review process with the newly announced settlement.

Legislative Update: Tenants in Foreclosed Properties
As described in prior issues of the Housing Law Bulletin, state legislatures have built upon the protections in the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act by enacting additional protections for tenants in homes and apartments that are being foreclosed upon. During 2012, lawmakers in California, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia enacted new protections for tenants in foreclosure. This article summarizes these developments.

Senate, House Reintroduce Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Crapo (D-ID) recently introduced S. 47, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization. Additionally, Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) introduced H.R. 11, a House companion bill identical to S. 47. The bills are very similar to S. 1925, that the Senate passed during the last Congress, and would strengthen the housing protections currently found in VAWA. This brief article describes the history and status of these bills.

Alaska Adopts Rental Assistance Program for Domestic and Sexual Violence Survivors
The state of Alaska recently launched an innovative program to provide rental assistance to domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. The program, called Empowering Choice, will provide up to 254 housing vouchers to survivors throughout the state. A second component of the program will provide preferential placement on public housing waiting lists for survivors who have been displaced due to domestic violence. This article provides an overview of the program.

HUD Updates Section 3 Complaint Form
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has revised and posted a new Section 3 complaint form, known as the Complaint Register, which is to be used by individuals and Section 3 businesses that believe their Section 3 rights have been violated. The changes are intended to make the complaint form and instructions more clear and usable. This article provides an overview of the Complaint Register process.

Recent Housing Cases
This issue of the Bulletin contains a brief summary of recent significant state and federal court decisions relating to affordable housing issues.

Recent Regulations and Notices
This issue of the Bulletin includes a brief summary of significant proposed and final regulations recently published in the Federal Register by federal housing agencies as well as summaries of other published notices and handbook changes recently made by HUD, RHS and other agencies administering affordable housing programs.

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