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Comment for 1026.15 - Right of Rescission

1. Transactions not covered. Credit extensions that are not subject to the regulation are not covered by § 1026.15 even if the customer's principal dwelling is the collateral securing the credit. For this purpose, credit extensions also would include the occurrences listed in comment 15(a)(1)-1. For example, the right of rescission does not apply to the opening of a business-purpose credit line, even though the loan is secured by the customer's principal dwelling.

15(a) Consumer's Right To Rescind

Paragraph 15(a)(1)

1. Occurrences subject to right. Under an open-end credit plan secured by the consumer's principal dwelling, the right of rescission generally arises with each of the following occurrences:

i. Opening the account.

ii. Each credit extension.

iii. Increasing the credit limit.

iv. Adding to an existing account a security interest in the consumer's principal dwelling.

v. Increasing the dollar amount of the security interest taken in the dwelling to secure the plan. For example, a consumer may open an account with a $10,000 credit limit, $5,000 of which is initially secured by the consumer's principal dwelling. The consumer has the right to rescind at that time and (except as noted in § 1026.15(a)(1)(ii)) with each extension on the account. Later, if the creditor decides that it wants the credit line fully secured, and increases the amount of its interest in the consumer's dwelling, the consumer has the right to rescind the increase.

2. Exceptions. Although the consumer generally has the right to rescind with each transaction on the account, Section 125(e) of the Act provides an exception: the creditor need not provide the right to rescind at the time of each credit extension made under an open-end credit plan secured by the consumer's principal dwelling to the extent that the credit extended is in accordance with a previously established credit limit for the plan. This limited rescission option is available whether or not the plan existed prior to the effective date of the Act.

3. Security interest arising from transaction.

i. In order for the right of rescission to apply, the security interest must be retained as part of the credit transaction. For example:

A. A security interest that is acquired by a contractor who is also extending the credit in the transaction.

B. A mechanic's or materialman's lien that is retained by a subcontractor or supplier of a contractor-creditor, even when the latter has waived its own security interest in the consumer's home.

ii. The security interest is not part of the credit transaction, and therefore the transaction is not subject to the right of rescission when, for example:

A. A mechanic's or materialman's lien is obtained by a contractor who is not a party to the credit transaction but merely is paid with the proceeds of the consumer's cash advance.

B. All security interests that may arise in connection with the credit transaction are validly waived.

C. The creditor obtains a lien and completion bond that in effect satisfies all liens against the consumer's principal dwelling as a result of the credit transaction.

iii. Although liens arising by operation of law are not considered security interests for purposes of disclosure under § 1026.2, that section specifically includes them in the definition for purposes of the right of rescission. Thus, even though an interest in the consumer's principal dwelling is not a required disclosure under § 1026.6(c), it may still give rise to the right of rescission.

4. Consumer. To be a consumer within the meaning of § 1026.2, that person must at least have an ownership interest in the dwelling that is encumbered by the creditor's security interest, although that person need not be a signatory to the credit agreement. For example, if only one spouse enters into a secured plan, the other spouse is a consumer if the ownership interest of that spouse is subject to the security interest.

5. Principal dwelling. A consumer can only have one principal dwelling at a time. (But see comment 15(a)(1)-6.) A vacation or other second home would not be a principal dwelling. A transaction secured by a second home (such as a vacation home) that is not currently being used as the consumer's principal dwelling is not rescindable, even if the consumer intends to reside there in the future. When a consumer buys or builds a new dwelling that will become the consumer's principal dwelling within one year or upon completion of construction, the new dwelling is considered the principal dwelling if it secures the open-end credit line. In that case, the transaction secured by the new dwelling is a residential mortgage transaction and is not rescindable. For example, if a consumer whose principal dwelling is currently A builds B, to be occupied by the consumer upon completion of construction, an advance on an open-end line to finance B and secured by B is a residential mortgage transaction. Dwelling, as defined in § 1026.2, includes structures that are classified as personalty under state law. For example, a transaction secured by a mobile home, trailer, or houseboat used as the consumer's principal dwelling may be rescindable.

6. Special rule for principal dwelling. Notwithstanding the general rule that consumers may have only one principal dwelling, when the consumer is acquiring or constructing a new principal dwelling, a credit plan or extension that is subject to Regulation Z and is secured by the equity in the consumer's current principal dwelling is subject to the right of rescission regardless of the purpose of that loan (for example, an advance to be used as a bridge loan). For example, if a consumer whose principal dwelling is currently A builds B, to be occupied by the consumer upon completion of construction, a loan to finance B and secured by A is subject to the right of rescission. Moreover, a loan secured by both A and B is, likewise, rescindable.

Paragraph 15(a)(2)

1. Consumer's exercise of right. The consumer must exercise the right of rescission in writing but not necessarily on the notice supplied under § 1026.15(b). Whatever the means of sending the notification of rescission - mail, telegram or other written means - the time period for the creditor's performance under § 1026.15(d)(2) does not begin to run until the notification has been received. The creditor may designate an agent to receive the notification so long as the agent's name and address appear on the notice provided to the consumer under § 1026.15(b). Where the creditor fails to provide the consumer with a designated address for sending the notification of rescission, delivery of the notification to the person or address to which the consumer has been directed to send payments constitutes delivery to the creditor or assignee. State law determines whether delivery of the notification to a third party other than the person to whom payments are made is delivery to the creditor or assignee, in the case where the creditor fails to designate an address for sending the notification of rescission.

Paragraph 15(a)(3)

1. Rescission period.

i. The period within which the consumer may exercise the right to rescind runs for 3 business days from the last of 3 events:

A. The occurrence that gives rise to the right of rescission.

B. Delivery of all material disclosures that are relevant to the plan.

C. Delivery to the consumer of the required rescission notice.

ii. For example, an account is opened on Friday, June 1, and the disclosures and notice of the right to rescind were given on Thursday, May 31; the rescission period will expire at midnight of the third business day after June 1 - that is, Tuesday June 5. In another example, if the disclosures are given and the account is opened on Friday, June 1, and the rescission notice is given on Monday, June 4, the rescission period expires at midnight of the third business day after June 4 - that is Thursday, June 7. The consumer must place the rescission notice in the mail, file it for telegraphic transmission, or deliver it to the creditor's place of business within that period in order to exercise the right.

2. Material disclosures. Section 1026.15(a)(3) sets forth the material disclosures that must be provided before the rescission period can begin to run. The creditor must provide sufficient information to satisfy the requirements of § 1026.6 for these disclosures. A creditor may satisfy this requirement by giving an initial disclosure statement that complies with the regulation. Failure to give the other required initial disclosures (such as the billing rights statement) or the information required under § 1026.40 does not prevent the running of the rescission period, although that failure may result in civil liability or administrative sanctions. The payment terms set forth in § 1026.15(a)(3) apply to any repayment phase set forth in the agreement. Thus, the payment terms described in § 1026.6(e)(2) for any repayment phase as well as for the draw period are “material disclosures.”

3. Material disclosures - variable rate program. For a variable rate program, the material disclosures also include the disclosures listed in § 1026.6(a)(1)(ii): the circumstances under which the rate may increase; the limitations on the increase; and the effect of an increase. The disclosures listed in § 1026.6(a)(1)(ii) for any repayment phase also are material disclosures for variable-rate programs.

4. Unexpired right of rescission.

i. When the creditor has failed to take the action necessary to start the three-day rescission period running the right to rescind automatically lapses on the occurrence of the earliest of the following three events:

A. The expiration of three years after the occurrence giving rise to the right of rescission.

B. Transfer of all the consumer's interest in the property.

C. Sale of the consumer's interest in the property, including a transaction in which the consumer sells the dwelling and takes back a purchase money note and mortgage or retains legal title through a device such as an installment sale contract.

ii. Transfer of all the consumer's interest includes such transfers as bequests and gifts. A sale or transfer of the property need not be voluntary to terminate the right to rescind. For example, a foreclosure sale would terminate an unexpired right to rescind. As provided in section 125 of the Act, the three-year limit may be extended by an administrative proceeding to enforce the provisions of § 1026.15. A partial transfer of the consumer's interest, such as a transfer bestowing co-ownership on a spouse, does not terminate the right of rescission.

Paragraph 15(a)(4)

1. Joint owners. When more than one consumer has the right to rescind a transaction, any one of them may exercise that right and cancel the transaction on behalf of all. For example, if both a husband and wife have the right to rescind a transaction, either spouse acting alone may exercise the right and both are bound by the rescission.

15(b) Notice of Right To Rescind

1. Who receives notice. Each consumer entitled to rescind must be given two copies of the rescission notice and the material disclosures.In a transaction involving joint owners, both of whom are entitled to rescind, both must receive the notice of the right to rescind and disclosures. For example, if both spouses are entitled to rescind a transaction, each must receive two copies of the rescission notice (one copy to each if the notice is provided in electronic form in accordance with the consumer consent and other applicable provisions of the E-Sign Act) and one copy of the disclosures.

2. Format. The rescission notice may be physically separated from the material disclosures or combined with the material disclosures, so long as the information required to be included on the notice is set forth in a clear and conspicuous manner. See the model notices in appendix G.

3. Content. The notice must include all of the information outlined in § 1026.15(b)(1) through (5). The requirement in § 1026.15(b) that the transaction or occurrence be identified may be met by providing the date of the transaction or occurrence. The notice may include additional information related to the required information, such as:

i. A description of the property subject to the security interest.

ii. A statement that joint owners may have the right to rescind and that a rescission by one is effective for all.

iii. The name and address of an agent of the creditor to receive notice of rescission.

4. Time of providing notice. The notice required by § 1026.15(b) need not be given before the occurrence giving rise to the right of rescission. The creditor may deliver the notice after the occurrence, but the rescission period will not begin to run until the notice is given. For example, if the creditor provides the notice on May 15, but disclosures were given and the credit limit was raised on May 10, the 3-business-day rescission period will run from May 15.

15(c) Delay of Creditor's Performance

1. General rule.

i. Until the rescission period has expired and the creditor is reasonably satisfied that the consumer has not rescinded, the creditor must not, either directly or through a third party:

A. Disburse advances to the consumer.

B. Begin performing services for the consumer.

C. Deliver materials to the consumer.

ii. A creditor may, however, continue to allow transactions under an existing open-end credit plan during a rescission period that results solely from the addition of a security interest in the consumer's principal dwelling. (See comment 15(c)-3 for other actions that may be taken during the delay period.)

2. Escrow. The creditor may disburse advances during the rescission period in a valid escrow arrangement. The creditor may not, however, appoint the consumer as “trustee” or “escrow agent” and distribute funds to the consumer in that capacity during the delay period.

3. Actions during the delay period. Section 1026.15(c) does not prevent the creditor from taking other steps during the delay, short of beginning actual performance. Unless otherwise prohibited, such as by state law, the creditor may, for example:

i. Prepare the cash advance check.

ii. Perfect the security interest.

iii. Accrue finance charges during the delay period.

4. Performance by third party. The creditor is relieved from liability for failure to delay performance if a third party with no knowledge that the rescission right has been activated provides materials or services, as long as any debt incurred for materials or services obtained by the consumer during the rescission period is not secured by the security interest in the consumer's dwelling. For example, if a consumer uses a bank credit card to purchase materials from a merchant in an amount below the floor limit, the merchant might not contact the card issuer for authorization and therefore would not know that materials should not be provided.

5. Delay beyond rescission period.

i. The creditor must wait until it is reasonably satisfied that the consumer has not rescinded. For example, the creditor may satisfy itself by doing one of the following:

A. Waiting a reasonable time after expiration of the rescission period to allow for delivery of a mailed notice.

B. Obtaining a written statement from the consumer that the right has not been exercised.

ii. When more than one consumer has the right to rescind, the creditor cannot reasonably rely on the assurance of only one consumer, because other consumers may exercise the right.

15(d) Effects of Rescission

Paragraph 15(d)(1)

1. Termination of security interest. Any security interest giving rise to the right of rescission becomes void when the consumer exercises the right of rescission. The security interest is automatically negated, regardless of its status and whether or not it was recorded or perfected. Under § 1026.15(d)(2), however, the creditor must take any action necessary to reflect the fact that the security interest no longer exists.

2. Extent of termination. The creditor's security interest is void to the extent that it is related to the occurrence giving rise to the right of rescission. For example, upon rescission:

i. If the consumer's right to rescind is activated by the opening of a plan, any security interest in the principal dwelling is void.

ii. If the right arises due to an increase in the credit limit, the security interest is void as to the amount of credit extensions over the prior limit, but the security interest in amounts up to the original credit limit is unaffected.

iii. If the right arises with each individual credit extension, then the interest is void as to that extension, and other extensions are unaffected.

Paragraph 15(d)(2)

1. Refunds to consumer. The consumer cannot be required to pay any amount in the form of money or property either to the creditor or to a third party as part of the occurrence subject to the right of rescission. Any amounts of this nature already paid by the consumer must be refunded. “Any amount” includes finance charges already accrued, as well as other charges such as broker fees, application and commitment fees, or fees for a title search or appraisal, whether paid to the creditor, paid by the consumer directly to a third party, or passed on from the creditor to the third party. It is irrelevant that these amounts may not represent profit to the creditor. For example:

i. If the occurrence is the opening of the plan, the creditor must return any membership or application fee paid.

ii. If the occurrence is the increase in a credit limit or the addition of a security interest, the creditor must return any fee imposed for a new credit report or filing fees.

iii. If the occurrence is a credit extension, the creditors must return fees such as application, title, and appraisal or survey fees, as well as any finance charges related to the credit extension.

2. Amounts not refundable to consumer. Creditors need not return any money given by the consumer to a third party outside of the occurrence, such as costs incurred for a building permit or for a zoning variance. Similarly, the term any amount does not apply to money or property given by the creditor to the consumer; those amounts must be tendered by the consumer to the creditor under § 1026.15(d)(3).

3. Reflection of security interest termination. The creditor must take whatever steps are necessary to indicate that the security interest is terminated. Those steps include the cancellation of documents creating the security interest, and the filing of release or termination statements in the public record. In a transaction involving subcontractors or suppliers that also hold security interests related to the occurrence rescinded by the consumer, the creditor must insure that the termination of their security interests is also reflected. The 20-day period for the creditor's action refers to the time within which the creditor must begin the process. It does not require all necessary steps to have been completed within that time, but the creditor is responsible for seeing the process through to completion.

Paragraph 15(d)(3)

1. Property exchange. Once the creditor has fulfilled its obligation under § 1026.15(d)(2), the consumer must tender to the creditor any property or money the creditor has already delivered to the consumer. At the consumer's option, property may be tendered at the location of the property. For example, if fixtures or furniture have been delivered to the consumer's home, the consumer may tender them to the creditor by making them available for pick-up at the home, rather than physically returning them to the creditor's premises. Money already given to the consumer must be tendered at the creditor's place of business. For purpose of property exchange, the following additional rules apply:

i. A cash advance is considered money for purposes of this section even if the creditor knows what the consumer intends to purchase with the money.

ii. In a 3-party open-end credit plan (that is, if the creditor and seller are not the same or related persons), extensions by the creditor that are used by the consumer for purchases from third-party sellers are considered to be the same as cash advances for purposes of tendering value to the creditor, even though the transaction is a purchase for other purposes under the regulation. For example, if a consumer exercises the unexpired right to rescind after using a 3-party credit card for one year, the consumer would tender the amount of the purchase price for the items charged to the account, rather than tendering the items themselves to the creditor.

2. Reasonable value. If returning the property would be extremely burdensome to the consumer, the consumer may offer the creditor its reasonable value rather than returning the property itself. For example, if building materials have already been incorporated into the consumer's dwelling, the consumer may pay their reasonable value.

Paragraph 15(d)(4)

1. Modifications. The procedures outlined in § 1026.15(d)(2) and (3) may be modified by a court. For example, when a consumer is in bankruptcy proceedings and prohibited from returning anything to the creditor, or when the equities dictate, a modification might be made. The sequence of procedures under § 1026.15(d)(2) and (3), or a court's modification of those procedures under § 1026.15(d)(4), does not affect a consumer's substantive right to rescind and to have the loan amount adjusted accordingly. Where the consumer's right to rescind is contested by the creditor, a court would normally determine whether the consumer has a right to rescind and determine the amounts owed before establishing the procedures for the parties to tender any money or property.

15(e) Consumer's Waiver of Right To Rescind

1. Need for waiver. To waive the right to rescind, the consumer must have a bona fide personal financial emergency that must be met before the end of the rescission period. The existence of the consumer's waiver will not, of itself, automatically insulate the creditor from liability for failing to provide the right of rescission.

2. Procedure. To waive or modify the right to rescind, the consumer must give a written statement that specifically waives or modifies the right, and also includes a brief description of the emergency. Each consumer entitled to rescind must sign the waiver statement. In a transaction involving multiple consumers, such as a husband and wife using their home as collateral, the waiver must bear the signatures of both spouses.

15(f) Exempt Transactions

1. Residential mortgage transaction. Although residential mortgage transactions would seldom be made on bona fide open-end credit plans (under which repeated transactions must be reasonably contemplated), an advance on an open-end plan could be for a downpayment for the purchase of a dwelling that would then secure the remainder of the line. In such a case, only the particular advance for the downpayment would be exempt from the rescission right.

2. State creditors. Cities and other political subdivisions of states acting as creditors are not exempt from § 1026.15.

3. Spreader clause. When the creditor holds a mortgage or deed of trust on the consumer's principal dwelling and that mortgage or deed of trust contains a “spreader clause” (also known as a “dragnet” or cross-collateralization clause), subsequent occurrences such as the opening of a plan or individual credit extensions are subject to the right of rescission to the same degree as if the security interest were taken directly to secure the open-end plan, unless the creditor effectively waives its security interest under the spreader clause with respect to the subsequent open-end credit extensions.