CFPB gives CUNA members HELP Act compliance answers

May 25, 2016

Nicholas Hluchyi, senior counsel for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) Office of Regulations, and Terry Randall, counsel for that office, briefed CUNA members Wednesday on changes brought by the implementation of the Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Communities (HELP) Act.

That interim final rule went into effect March 31. It is a win for credit unions and their members because it makes it possible to provide additional credit to consumers in rural and underserved areas.

Wednesday's session was moderated by Andy Price, a CUNA senior director of advocacy and counsel, who lauded the regulation as an excellent example of tailoring a rule to acknowledge the credit union difference, a policy approach strongly advocated by CUNA.

The CFPB staffers reminded that the rule amends parts of Regulation Z that set eligibility requirements for small creditors that operate in rural or underserved areas to originate balloon-payment qualified mortgages. The updated small creditor threshold applies to credit unions that have less than $2 billion in assets and who originate under 2,000 covered transactions.

The CFPB staffers noted that, as specifically advocated by CUNA, the rule also allows:

  • Credit unions to qualify for the small creditor exemption with only one covered transaction originated in a rural or underserved area. CUNA pushed for this threshold specifically, and though the CFPB could have chosen any numbers up to 49% of covered transactions, it chose CUNA’s advocated position;
  • More credit unions to originate high-cost mortgages with balloon payments under the CFPB’s Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act regulations; and
  • Credit unions to forego establishing escrow accounts for higher-priced mortgages if they satisfy the other exemption criteria.

During the Q-and-A, the CFPB staffers noted the bureau offers compliance information on its website. HELP Act resources are also available from CUNA's Compliance Community.