CFPB Tackles Mortgage Protections For Borrowers In The Armed Forces

The CFPB last week unveiled a set of rules (PDF) to protect mortgage borrowers, especially those who are military servicemembers.

Part of the trouble for military families is that they simply have to move more often, and on timetables not of their choosing. That means dealing with more lenders, more houses, and more potential for problems.

The three new key areas the CFPB addresses are:

  • Dual tracking: Lenders who move forward with foreclosure proceedings against a homeowner, while at the same time working with that borrower on a loan modification, are dual tracking–and that’s a big no-no, says the CFPB.
  • Streamlining help for borrowers: Homeowners seeking loan modifications can get stuck in paperwork hell, having to submit a new package of documents (that goes who-knows-where) each time they pursue a new option or speak to a new service rep. The CFPB’s new rule requires lenders to consider all options for which borrower is eligible right off the bat, without countless repeated paperwork cycles.
  • Better service: Loan sevicers are required to “train their people to answer your questions and, if you do run into trouble, the servicer has to assign people to help you.” Additionally, lenders are supposed to have policies in place to prevent losing paperwork.

Specifically to help members of the armed forces, as of 2011 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac consider Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders to be hardships that qualify for assistance programs–meaning military families who have been ordered to pack up and move no longer have to miss a mortgage payment before qualifying for help.

Additionally, back in 2012 the CFPB issued guidance that all mortgage servicers should have a policy in place for dealing with borrowers who received PCS orders, and that they need to communicate those policies clearly.

In recent months, the CFPB has also addressed predatory lending and exorbitant bank fees targeted at military service members.