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Comment for 1024.39 - Early Intervention Requirements for Certain Borrowers

This version is the current regulation

39(a) Live contact.

1. Delinquency. Section 1024.39 requires a servicer to establish or attempt to establish live contact no later than the 36th day of a borrower's delinquency. This provision is illustrated as follows:

i. Assume a mortgage loan obligation with a monthly billing cycle and monthly payments of $2,000 representing principal, interest, and escrow due on the first of each month.

A. The borrower fails to make a payment of $2,000 on, and makes no payment during the 36-day period after, January 1. The servicer must establish or make good faith efforts to establish live contact not later than 36 days after January 1 - i.e., on or before February 6.

B. The borrower makes no payments during the period January 1 through April 1, although payments of $2,000 each on January 1, February 1, and March 1 are due. Assuming it is not a leap year, the borrower is 90 days delinquent as of April 1. The servicer may time its attempts to establish live contact such that a single attempt will meet the requirements of § 1024.39(a) for two missed payments. To illustrate, the servicer complies with § 1024.39(a) if the servicer makes a good faith effort to establish live contact with the borrower, for example, on February 5 and again on March 25. The February 5 attempt meets the requirements of § 1024.39(a) for both the January 1 and February 1 missed payments. The March 25 attempt meets the requirements of § 1024.39(a) for the March 1 missed payment.

ii. A borrower who is performing as agreed under a loss mitigation option designed to bring the borrower current on a previously missed payment is not delinquent for purposes of § 1024.39.

iii. During the 60-day period beginning on the effective date of transfer of the servicing of any mortgage loan, a borrower is not delinquent for purposes of § 1024.39 if the transferee servicer learns that the borrower has made a timely payment that has been misdirected to the transferor servicer and the transferee servicer documents its files accordingly. See § 1024.33(c)(1) and comment 33(c)(1)-2.

iv. A servicer need not establish live contact with a borrower unless the borrower is delinquent during the 36 days after a payment due date. If the borrower satisfies a payment in full before the end of the 36-day period, the servicer need not establish live contact with the borrower. For example, if a borrower misses a January 1 due date but makes that payment on February 1, a servicer need not establish or make good faith efforts to establish live contact by February 6.

2. Establishing live contact. Live contact provides servicers an opportunity to discuss the circumstances of a borrower's delinquency. Live contact with a borrower includes speaking on the telephone or conducting an in-person meeting with the borrower but not leaving a recorded phone message. A servicer may rely on live contact established at the borrower's initiative to satisfy the live contact requirement in § 1024.39(a). Servicers may also combine contacts made pursuant to § 1024.39(a) with contacts made with borrowers for other reasons, for instance, by telling borrowers on collection calls that loss mitigation options may be available.

3. Good faith efforts. Good faith efforts to establish live contact consist of reasonable steps, under the circumstances, to reach a borrower and may include telephoning the borrower on more than one occasion or sending written or electronic communication encouraging the borrower to establish live contact with the servicer. The length of a borrower's delinquency, as well as a borrower's failure to respond to a servicer's repeated attempts at communication pursuant to § 1024.39(a), are relevant circumstances to consider. For example, whereas “good faith efforts” to establish live contact with regard to a borrower with two consecutive missed payments might require a telephone call, “good faith efforts” to establish live contact with regard to an unresponsive borrower with six or more consecutive missed payments might require no more than including a sentence requesting that the borrower contact the servicer with regard to the delinquencies in the periodic statement or in an electronic communication. Comment 39(a)-6 discusses the relationship between live contact and the loss mitigation procedures set forth in § 1024.41.

4. Promptly inform if appropriate. i. Servicer's determination. It is within a servicer's reasonable discretion to determine whether informing a borrower about the availability of loss mitigation options is appropriate under the circumstances. The following examples demonstrate when a servicer has made a reasonable determination regarding the appropriateness of providing information about loss mitigation options.

A. A servicer provides information about the availability of loss mitigation options to a borrower who notifies a servicer during live contact of a material adverse change in the borrower's financial circumstances that is likely to cause the borrower to experience a long-term delinquency for which loss mitigation options may be available.

B. A servicer does not provide information about the availability of loss mitigation options to a borrower who has missed a January 1 payment and notified the servicer that full late payment will be transmitted to the servicer by February 15.

ii. Promptly inform. If appropriate, a servicer may inform borrowers about the availability of loss mitigation options orally, in writing, or through electronic communication, but the servicer must provide such information promptly after the servicer establishes live contact. A servicer need not notify a borrower about any particular loss mitigation options at this time; if appropriate, a servicer need only inform borrowers generally that loss mitigation options may be available. If appropriate, a servicer may satisfy the requirement in § 1024.39(a) to inform a borrower about loss mitigation options by providing the written notice required by § 1024.39(b)(1), but the servicer must provide such notice promptly after the servicer establishes live contact.

5. Borrower's representative. Section 1024.39 does not prohibit a servicer from satisfying its requirements by establishing live contact with and, if applicable, providing information about loss mitigation options to a person authorized by the borrower to communicate with the servicer on the borrower's behalf. A servicer may undertake reasonable procedures to determine if a person that claims to be an agent of a borrower has authority from the borrower to act on the borrower's behalf, for example, by requiring a person that claims to be an agent of the borrower to provide documentation from the borrower stating that the purported agent is acting on the borrower's behalf.

6. Relationship between live contact and loss mitigation procedures. If the servicer has established and is maintaining ongoing contact with the borrower under the loss mitigation procedures under § 1024.41, including during the borrower's completion of a loss mitigation application or the servicer's evaluation of the borrower's complete loss mitigation application, or if the servicer has sent the borrower a notice pursuant to § 1024.41(c)(1)(ii) that the borrower is not eligible for any loss mitigation options, the servicer complies with § 1024.39(a) and need not otherwise establish or make good faith efforts to establish live contact. A servicer must resume compliance with the requirements of § 1024.39(a) for a borrower who becomes delinquent again after curing a prior delinquency.

39(b) Written notice.

39(b)(1) Notice required.

1. Delinquency. For guidance on the circumstances under which a borrower is delinquent for purposes of § 1024.39, see comment 39(a)-1. For example, if a payment due date is January 1 and the payment remains unpaid during the 45-day period after January 1, the servicer must provide the written notice within 45 days after January 1 - i.e., by February 15. However, if a borrower satisfies a late payment in full before the end of the 45-day period, the servicer need not provide the written notice. For example, if a borrower misses a January 1 due date but makes that payment on February 1, a servicer need not provide the written notice by February 15.

2. Frequency of the written notice. A servicer need not provide the written notice under § 1024.39(b) more than once during a 180-day period beginning on the date on which the written notice is provided. A servicer must provide the written notice under § 1024.39(b) at least once every 180 days to a borrower who is 45 days or more delinquent. This provision is illustrated as follows: Assume a borrower becomes delinquent on March 1, the amount due is not fully paid during the 45 days after March 1, and the servicer provides the written notice on the 45th day after March 1, which is April 15. Assume the borrower also fails to make the payment due on April 1 and the amount due is not fully paid during the 45 days after April 1. The servicer need not provide the written notice again until after the 180-day period beginning on April 15 - i.e., no sooner than on October 12 - and then only if the borrower is at that time 45 days or more delinquent.

i. If the borrower is 45 days or more delinquent on October 12, the date that is 180 days after the prior provision of the written notice, the servicer is required to provide the written notice again on October 12.

ii. If the borrower is less than 45 days delinquent on October 12, the servicer must again provide the written notice 45 days after the payment due date for which the borrower remains delinquent. For example, if the borrower becomes delinquent on October 1, and the amount due is not fully paid during the 45 days after October 1, the servicer will need to provide the written notice again no later than 45 days after October 1 - i.e., by November 15.

3. Borrower's representative. Comment 39(a)-5 explains how a servicer may satisfy the requirements under § 1024.39 with a person authorized by the borrower to communicate with the servicer on the borrower's behalf.

4. Relationship to § 1024.39(a). The written notice required under § 1024.39(b)(1) must be provided even if the servicer provided information about loss mitigation and foreclosure previously during an oral communication with the borrower under § 1024.39(a).

5. Servicing transfers. A transferee servicer is required to comply with the requirements of § 1024.39(b) regardless of whether the transferor servicer provided a written notice to the borrower in the preceding 180-day period. However, a transferee servicer is not required to provide a written notice under § 1024.39(b) if the transferor servicer provided the written notice under § 1024.39(b) within 45 days of the transfer date. For example, assume a borrower has monthly payments, with a payment due on March 1. The transferor servicer provides the notice required by § 1024.39(b) on April 10. The loan is transferred on April 12. Assuming the borrower remains delinquent, the transferee servicer is not required to provide another written notice until 45 days after May 1, the first post-transfer payment due date - i.e., by June 15.

39(b)(2) Content of the written notice.

1. Minimum requirements. Section 1024.39(b)(2) contains minimum content requirements for the written notice. A servicer may provide additional information that the servicer determines would be helpful or which may be required by applicable law or the owner or assignee of the mortgage loan.

2. Format. Any color, number of pages, size and quality of paper, size and type of print, and method of reproduction may be used, provided each of the statements required by § 1024.39(b)(2) satisfies the clear and conspicuous standard in § 1024.32(a)(1).

3. Delivery. A servicer may satisfy the requirement to provide the written notice by combining other notices that satisfy the content requirements of § 1024.39(b)(2) into a single mailing, provided each of the statements required by § 1024.39(b)(2) satisfies the clear and conspicuous standard in § 1024.32(a)(1).

Paragraph 39(b)(2)(iii).

1. Number of examples. Section 1024.39(b)(2)(iii) does not require that a specific number of examples be disclosed, but borrowers are likely to benefit from examples of options that would permit them to retain ownership of their home and examples of options that may require borrowers to end their ownership to avoid foreclosure. The servicer may include a generic list of loss mitigation options that it offers to borrowers. The servicer may include a statement that not all borrowers will qualify for the listed options.

2. Brief description. An example of a loss mitigation option may be described in one or more sentences. If a servicer offers a loss mitigation option comprising several loss mitigation programs, the servicer may provide a generic description of the option without providing detailed descriptions of each program. For example, if the servicer offers several loan modification programs, the servicer may provide a generic description of “loan modification.”

Paragraph 39(b)(2)(iv).

1. Explanation of how the borrower may obtain more information about loss mitigation options. A servicer may comply with § 1024.39(b)(2)(iv) by directing the borrower to contact the servicer for more detailed information on how to apply for loss mitigation options. For example, a general statement such as, “contact us for instructions on how to apply” would satisfy the requirement to inform the borrower how to obtain more information about loss mitigation options. However, to expedite the borrower's timely application for any loss mitigation options, servicers may provide more detailed instructions, such as by listing representative documents the borrower should make available to the servicer (such as tax filings or income statements), and an estimate of how quickly the servicer expects to evaluate a completed application and make a decision on loss mitigation options. Servicers may also supplement the written notice required by § 1024.39(b)(1) with a loss mitigation application form.

39(c) Borrowers in bankruptcy.

1. Borrower's representative. If the borrower is represented by a person authorized by the borrower to communicate with the servicer on the borrower's behalf, the servicer may provide the written notice required by § 1024.39(b), as modified by § 1024.39(c)(1)(iii), to the borrower's representative. See comment 39(a)-5. In general, bankruptcy counsel is the borrower's representative. A servicer's procedures for determining whether counsel is the borrower's representative are generally considered reasonable if they are limited to, for example, confirming that the attorney's name is listed on the borrower's bankruptcy petition or other court filing.

2. Adapting requirements in bankruptcy. Section 1024.39(c) does not require a servicer to communicate with a borrower in a manner that would be inconsistent with applicable bankruptcy law or a court order in a bankruptcy case. If necessary to comply with such law or court order, a servicer may adapt the requirements of § 1024.39 as appropriate.

39(c)(1) Borrowers in bankruptcy - Partial exemption.

1. Commencing a case. Section 1024.39(c)(1) applies once a petition is filed under title 11 of the United States Code, commencing a case in which the borrower is a debtor in bankruptcy.

Paragraph 39(c)(1)(ii).

1. Availability of loss mitigation options. In part, § 1024.39(c)(1)(ii) exempts a servicer from the requirements of § 1024.39(b) if no loss mitigation option is available. A loss mitigation option is available if the owner or assignee of a mortgage loan offers an alternative to foreclosure that is made available through the servicer and for which a borrower may apply, even if the borrower ultimately does not qualify for such option.

2. Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. i. Exemption. To the extent the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq.) applies to a servicer's communications with a borrower in bankruptcy and any borrower on the mortgage loan has provided a notification pursuant to FDCPA section 805(c) notifying the servicer that the borrower refuses to pay a debt or that the borrower wishes the servicer to cease further communications, with regard to that mortgage loan, § 1024.39(c)(1)(ii) exempts a servicer from providing the written notice required by § 1024.39(b).

ii. Example. For example, assume that two spouses jointly own a home and are both primarily liable on the mortgage loan. Further assume that the servicer is subject to the FDCPA with respect to that mortgage loan. One spouse is a debtor in bankruptcy under title 11 of the United States Code subject to § 1024.39(c). The other spouse provided the servicer a notification pursuant to FDCPA section 805(c). Section 1024.39(c)(1)(ii) exempts the servicer from providing the written notice required by § 1024.39(b) with respect to that mortgage loan.

Paragraph 39(c)(1)(iii).

1. Joint obligors. When two or more borrowers are joint obligors with primary liability on a mortgage loan subject to § 1024.39, if any of the borrowers is a debtor in bankruptcy, a servicer may provide the written notice required by § 1024.39(b), as modified by § 1024.39(c)(1)(iii), to any borrower.

39(c)(2) Resuming compliance.

1. Bankruptcy case revived. If the borrower's bankruptcy case is revived, for example if the court reinstates a previously dismissed case or reopens the case, § 1024.39(c)(1) once again applies. However, § 1024.39(c)(1)(iii)(C) provides that a servicer is not required to provide the written notice more than once during a single bankruptcy case. For example, assume a borrower's bankruptcy case commences on June 1, the servicer provides the written notice on July 10 in compliance with § 1024.39(b) as modified by § 1024.39(c)(1)(iii), and the bankruptcy case is dismissed on August 1. If the court subsequently reopens or reinstates the borrower's bankruptcy case and the servicer does not provide a second written notice for that bankruptcy case, the servicer has complied with § 1024.39(b) and (c)(1)(iii).

39(d) Fair Debt Collection Practices Act - partial exemption.

1. Availability of loss mitigation options. In part, § 1024.39(d)(2) exempts a servicer from providing the written notice required by § 1024.39(b) if no loss mitigation option is available. A loss mitigation option is available if the owner or assignee of a mortgage loan offers an alternative to foreclosure that is made available through the servicer and for which a borrower may apply, even if the borrower ultimately does not qualify for such option.

2. Early intervention communications under the FDCPA. To the extent the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq.) applies to a servicer's communications with a borrower, a servicer does not violate FDCPA section 805(c) by providing the written notice required by § 1024.39(b) as modified by § 1024.39(d)(3) after a borrower has provided a notification pursuant to FDCPA section 805(c) with respect to that borrower's loan. Nor does a servicer violate FDCPA section 805(c) by providing loss mitigation information or assistance in response to a borrower-initiated communication after the borrower has invoked the cease communication right under FDCPA section 805(c). A servicer subject to the FDCPA must continue to comply with all other applicable provisions of the FDCPA, including restrictions on communications and prohibitions on harassment or abuse, false or misleading representations, and unfair practices as contained in FDCPA sections 805 through 808 (15 U.S.C. 1692c through 1692f).

Paragraph 39(d)(2).

1. Borrowers in bankruptcy. To the extent the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (15 U.S.C. 1692 et seq.) applies to a servicer's communications with a borrower and the borrower has provided a notification pursuant to FDCPA section 805(c) notifying the servicer that the borrower refuses to pay a debt or that the borrower wishes the servicer to cease communications, with regard to that mortgage loan, § 1024.39(d)(2) exempts a servicer from providing the written notice required by § 1024.39(d) while any borrower on the mortgage loan is also a debtor in bankruptcy under title 11 of the United States Code. For an example, see comment 39(c)(1)(ii)-2.ii.