In a blog post published at the end of last week, Acting CFPB Director Uejio shared with the public the statement that he sent to the staff of the Bureau’s Division of Research, Markets, and Regulations (RMR) outlining his regulatory priorities and directing staff to “explore options for preserving the status quo with respect to QM and debt collection rules.”

Following on the heels of a previous blog post in which Mr. Uejio publicly shared his statement to the staff of the Bureau’s Division of Supervision, Enforcement, and Fair Lending, the new blog post reinforces Mr. Uejio’s intention to make significant changes at the Bureau even before Rohit Chopra, President Biden’s nominee for CFPB Director, is confirmed by the Senate and sworn in.

On February 23, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET, Ballard Spahr attorneys will hold a webinar, “Preparing for CFPB Examinations and Enforcement Under the Biden Administration: What You Need to Know.”  Click here for more information and to register.

Mr. Uejio’s direction to RMR to “explore options for preserving the status quo with respect to QM and debt collection rules” is intended to be a way “to preserve, where possible, maximum policy flexibility for the President’s nominee once confirmed.”  It is not clear by what means Mr. Uejio is seeking “to preserve the status quo.”  Any steps taken by the CFPB to delay the effective dates of these rules will be subject to applicable requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act.  The final debt collection rule (Parts I and II) is effective on November 30, 2021 and the final QM rules are effective on March 1, 2021, with a mandatory compliance date of July 1, 2021 for the new general QM rule.

As he did in his previous blog post, Mr. Uejio indicated that his policy priorities are relief for consumers facing financial hardship due to the pandemic and racial equity.”  In addition to looking to RMR “for a robust research agenda that examines the impact of specific industry practices on consumers’ daily budget and overall bottom line in order to target effective policy interventions,” Mr. Uejio plans to “assess[] regulatory actions taken by the previous leadership and adjusting as necessary and appropriate those not in line with our consumer protection mission and mandate.”

Mr. Uejio directed RMR to take the following “immediate steps” and indicated that he would authorize use of the CFPB’s data collection authority under Dodd-Frank Act Section 1022(c)(4) to obtain relevant data:

  • Prepare an analysis on housing insecurity, including mortgage foreclosures, mobile home repossessions, and landlord-tenant evictions
  • Prepare an analysis of the most pressing consumer finance barriers to racial equity to inform research and rulemaking priorities
  • Explicitly include the racial equity impact in policy proposals
  • Resume data collections postponed by the Bureau in March 2020 (HMDA quarterly reporting, CARD Act data collection, Section 1071 cost of compliance data, and Property Assessed Clean Energy financing data Act.  (With regard to the Section 1071 rulemaking, Mr. Uejio indicated that he has “pledged RMR the support it needs to implement [section 1071] without delay.”)

In June 2020, the CFPB issued an interim final rule to provide an exemption from certain Regulation X loss mitigation requirements in connection with offering certain permanent loss mitigation options to borrowers who are completing a COVID-19-related forbearance.  The CFPB is currently engaged in further rulemaking that is likely to expand the scope of those exemptions.  In his statement, Mr. Uejio directed RMR to “focus the mortgage servicing rulemaking on pandemic response to avert, to the extent possible, a foreclosure crisis when the COVID-19 forbearances end in March and April.”