We have published our Spring 2021 Agenda as part of the , which is coordinated by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866. The agenda lists the regulatory matters that, to further our consumer protection mission and mandate, we are currently pursuing under interim leadership pending the appointment and confirmation of a permanent Director. The permanent Director’s changes to our regulatory agenda will be reflected in the Fall 2021 Unified Agenda. We have also taken actions, and plan further actions, to focus our resources on addressing the adverse impacts to consumers in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis, and are taking concrete steps toward furthering our commitment to promoting racial and economic equity.
For example, we issued an interim final rule (IFR) concerning the eviction moratorium issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The IFR, which was issued on April 19 and therefore is not listed in the Spring 2021 rulemaking agenda, addresses certain debt collector conduct associated with the CDC’s eviction moratorium order, which is in effect until June 30, 2021. The IFR applies to debt collectors, as that term is defined in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA establishes broad consumer protections and prohibits debt collectors from engaging in harassment or abuse, making false or misleading representations, or engaging in unfair practices in debt collection. We issued the IFR because we are concerned that consumers are not aware of the protections under the CDC Order’s eviction moratorium and that FDCPA-covered debt collectors may be engaging in eviction-related conduct that violates the FDCPA.
Completed rulemaking items
We have already completed some of the items listed on the Spring 2021 Agenda, all of which are intended to provide further protection to consumers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Extension of compliance date for changes to the Qualified Mortgages (QM) provisions of Regulation Z
On April 27, 2021, we issued a final rule to extend the mandatory compliance date for changes to the Qualified Mortgages (QM) provisions of Regulation Z to October 1, 2022. This extension allows creditors a wider range of options in making mortgage loans that are QMs and thereby obtain certain protections from both creditor and assignee liability. Creditors can make loans that obtain QM status using either the prior General QM loan definition or the December 2020 finalized amendments to the General QM loan definition that removed the 43 percent debt-to-income (DTI) requirement and instead established a pricing threshold. Loans eligible for purchase by the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) will also continue to have QM status, regardless of the purchase requirements set by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Mortgage servicing early intervention and loss mitigation-related provisions in Regulation X
We issued proposed amendments on April 5 to the mortgage servicing early intervention and loss mitigation-related provisions in Regulation X, which implements the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, to help ensure that borrowers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have an opportunity to be evaluated for loss mitigation before the initiation of foreclosure. We received extensive comments on the proposed rule and have been engaged with stakeholders to understand concerns and adjust our approach. We expect to issue a final rule before the June 30 expiration of the Federal foreclosure moratoria.
Extension of effective date for Debt Collection Final Rules
We issued a proposed rule on April 7 to extend the effective date by 60 days of two recent final rules issued to implement the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in light of the continuation of the widespread societal disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both final rules are scheduled to take effect on November 30, 2021. Our next action is a final rule on whether and for how long to extend the effective date of these final rules after reviewing the comments submitted to the docket.
Planned regulatory activities
We have several other regulatory activities planned through the fall of 2021 to address consumer protection issues. Key among these are the following:
Small business lending data
Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act requires financial institutions to collect, report, and make public certain information concerning credit applications made by women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses. Congress enacted section 1071 for the purpose of:
- Facilitating enforcement of fair lending laws, and
- Enabling communities, governmental entities, and creditors to identify business and community development needs and opportunities for women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses.
In September 2020, we released an in advance of convening a panel under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), in conjunction with the Office of Management and Budget and the Small Business Administration’s Chief Counsel for Advocacy. The SBREFA panel was convened in October 2020 and received feedback from representatives of small entities on the impacts that possible approaches to the section 1071 rulemaking would have on small entities likely to be directly affected by it. The was completed and released in December 2020. Our next action for section 1071 is to release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which we anticipate doing in September 2021.
Availability of electronic consumer financial account data
We are considering a rulemaking to implement section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act to address the availability of consumer financial account data in electronic form. The means by which these data are accessed, transmitted, stored, and used by financial institutions of all kinds can implicate significant privacy, security, racial equity, and other consumer financial protection concerns. We hosted a symposium on consumer-authorized financial data sharing in February 2020. In November 2020, the Bureau released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) concerning consumer data access to implement section 1033, accepting comments until early February 2021. We are reviewing comments received in response to the ANPRM and considering those comments as we assess potential next steps.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing
Section 307 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (EGRRCPA) requires that the Bureau prescribe certain regulations relating to PACE financing. PACE financing is a tool for consumers to finance certain improvements to residential real property and is authorized by State and local governments, typically for projects promoting energy and water conservation, among other public policy goals identified in state statute. In March 2019, we released an ANPRM and are continuing to engage with stakeholders and collect information for the rulemaking, including by collecting quantitative data on the effect of PACE on consumers’ financial outcomes.
Standards for Automated Valuation Models (AVMs)
We are pursuing an interagency rulemaking with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to develop regulations to implement the amendments made by the Dodd-Frank Act to the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) concerning appraisals. The FIRREA amendments require implementing regulations for quality control standards for automated valuation models (AVMs). These standards are designed to ensure a high level of confidence in the estimates produced by the valuation models, protect against the manipulation of data, seek to avoid conflicts of interest, require random sample testing and reviews, and account for any other such factor that the Agencies determine to be appropriate.
Facilitating transition away from LIBOR index
We are continuing a rulemaking to address the anticipated expiration of the LIBOR index, which the UK Financial Conduct Authority has stated that it cannot guarantee the publication of beyond June 2023. This rulemaking is important for the millions of consumers who have adjustable-rate mortgages, credit cards, student loans, reverse mortgages, home equity lines of credit, or other loans that are tied to the LIBOR index. Our work is designed to lessen the financial impact to consumers and facilitate creditor compliance by providing examples of replacement indices that meet Regulation Z requirements. We issued a proposed rule in June 2020 and expect to issue a final rule in January 2022.
Reviewing existing regulations
Section 1022(d) of the Dodd-Frank Act requires us to conduct an assessment of each significant rule or order we have adopted under Federal consumer financial law and publish a report of each assessment no later than five years after the effective date of the subject matter or order. We recently decided that we will conduct an assessment of a rule implementing the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), most of which became effective in January 2018. Further, in light of our other rulemaking priorities, we are no longer pursuing two HMDA rulemakings that were listed in the proposed rule stage in previous agendas – one that concerns the data points that lenders must report and another related to the public disclosure of HMDA data.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) also requires us to consider the effect on small entities of certain rules it promulgates. In August 2020, we began our RFA section 610 review of Regulation Z rules that implement the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009. Specifically, we reviewed an interim final rule and three final rules published by the Board from July 2009 to April 2011. This review was completed in April 2021, and we will publish our determination concerning any resulting changes to the rule in the Fall 2021 Unified Agenda.
Finally, as required by the Dodd-Frank Act, we are continuing to monitor markets for consumer financial products and services to identify risks to consumers and the proper functioning of such markets.