24 CFR 3500.17 - Escrow accounts.

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§ 3500.17 Escrow accounts.
(a) General. This section sets out the requirements for an escrow account that a lender establishes in connection with a federally related mortgage loan. It sets limits for escrow accounts using calculations based on monthly payments and disbursements within a calendar year. If an escrow account involves biweekly or any other payment period, the requirements in this section shall be modified accordingly. A HUD Public Guidance Document entitled “Biweekly Payments—Example” provides examples of biweekly accounting and a HUD Public Guidance Document entitled “Annual Escrow Account Disclosure Statement—Example” provides examples of a 3-year accounting cycle that may be used in accordance with paragraph (c)(9) of this section. A HUD Public Guidance Document entitled “Consumer Disclosure for Voluntary Escrow Account Payments” provides a model disclosure format that originators and servicers are encouraged, but not required, to provide to consumers when the originator or servicer anticipates a substantial increase in disbursements from the escrow account after the first year of the loan. The disclosures in that model format may be combined with or included in the Initial Escrow Account Statement required in § 3500.17(g).
(b) Definitions. As used in this section:
Aggregate (or) composite analysis, hereafter called aggregate analysis, means an accounting method a servicer uses in conducting an escrow account analysis by computing the sufficiency of escrow account funds by analyzing the account as a whole. Appendix E to this part sets forth examples of aggregate escrow account analyses.
Annual escrow account statement means a statement containing all of the information set forth in § 3500.17(i). As noted in § 3500.17(i), a servicer shall submit an annual escrow account statement to the borrower within 30 calendar days of the end of the escrow account computation year, after conducting an escrow account analysis.
Cushion or reserve (hereafter cushion) means funds that a servicer may require a borrower to pay into an escrow account to cover unanticipated disbursements or disbursements made before the borrower's payments are available in the account, as limited by § 3500.17(c).
Deficiency is the amount of a negative balance in an escrow account. As noted in § 3500.17(f), if a servicer advances funds for a borrower, then the servicer must perform an escrow account analysis before seeking repayment of the deficiency.
Delivery means the placing of a document in the United States mail, first-class postage paid, addressed to the last known address of the recipient. Hand delivery also constitutes delivery.
Disbursement date means the date on which the servicer actually pays an escrow item from the escrow account.
Escrow account means any account that a servicer establishes or controls on behalf of a borrower to pay taxes, insurance premiums (including flood insurance), or other charges with respect to a federally related mortgage loan, including charges that the borrower and servicer have voluntarily agreed that the servicer should collect and pay. The definition encompasses any account established for this purpose, including a “trust account”, “reserve account”, “impound account”, or other term in different localities. An “escrow account” includes any arrangement where the servicer adds a portion of the borrower's payments to principal and subsequently deducts from principal the disbursements for escrow account items. For purposes of this section, the term “escrow account” excludes any account that is under the borrower's total control.
Escrow account analysis means the accounting that a servicer conducts in the form of a trial running balance for an escrow account to:
(1) Determine the appropriate target balances;
(2) Compute the borrower's monthly payments for the next escrow account computation year and any deposits needed to establish or maintain the account; and
(3) Determine whether shortages, surpluses or deficiencies exist.
Escrow account computation year is a 12-month period that a servicer establishes for the escrow account beginning with the borrower's initial payment date. The term includes each 12-month period thereafter, unless a servicer chooses to issue a short year statement under the conditions stated in § 3500.17(i)(4).
Escrow account item or separate item means any separate expenditure category, such as “taxes” or “insurance”, for which funds are collected in the escrow account for disbursement. An escrow account item with installment payments, such as local property taxes, remains one escrow account item regardless of multiple disbursement dates to the tax authority.
Initial escrow account statement means the first disclosure statement that the servicer delivers to the borrower concerning the borrower's escrow account. The initial escrow account statement shall meet the requirements of § 3500.17(g) and be in substantially the format set forth in § 3500.17(h).
Installment payment means one of two or more payments payable on an escrow account item during an escrow account computation year. An example of an installment payment is where a jurisdiction bills quarterly for taxes.
Payment due date means the date each month when the borrower's monthly payment to an escrow account is due to the servicer. The initial payment date is the borrower's first payment due date to an escrow account.
Penalty means a late charge imposed by the payee for paying after the disbursement is due. It does not include any additional charge or fee imposed by the payee associated with choosing installment payments as opposed to annual payments or for choosing one installment plan over another.
Pre-accrual is a practice some servicers use to require borrowers to deposit funds, needed for disbursement and maintenance of a cushion, in the escrow account some period before the disbursement date. Pre-accrual is subject to the limitations of § 3500.17(c).
Shortage means an amount by which a current escrow account balance falls short of the target balance at the time of escrow analysis.
Single-item analysis means an accounting method servicers use in conducting an escrow account analysis by computing the sufficiency of escrow account funds by considering each escrow item separately. Appendix E to this part sets forth examples of single-item analysis.
Submission (of an escrow account statement) means the delivery of the statement.
Surplus means an amount by which the current escrow account balance exceeds the target balance for the account.
System of recordkeeping means the servicer's method of keeping information that reflects the facts relating to that servicer's handling of the borrower's escrow account, including, but not limited to, the payment of amounts from the escrow account and the submission of initial and annual escrow account statements to borrowers.
Target balance means the estimated month end balance in an escrow account that is just sufficient to cover the remaining disbursements from the escrow account in the escrow account computation year, taking into account the remaining scheduled periodic payments, and a cushion, if any.
Trial running balance means the accounting process that derives the target balances over the course of an escrow account computation year. Section 3500.17(d) provides a description of the steps involved in performing a trial running balance.
(c) Limits on payments to escrow accounts.
(1) A lender or servicer (hereafter servicer) shall not require a borrower to deposit into any escrow account, created in connection with a federally related mortgage loan, more than the following amounts:
(i) Charges at settlement or upon creation of an escrow account. At the time a servicer creates an escrow account for a borrower, the servicer may charge the borrower an amount sufficient to pay the charges respecting the mortgaged property, such as taxes and insurance, which are attributable to the period from the date such payment(s) were last paid until the initial payment date. The “amount sufficient to pay” is computed so that the lowest month end target balance projected for the escrow account computation year is zero (-0-) (see Step 2 in appendix E to this part). In addition, the servicer may charge the borrower a cushion that shall be no greater than one-sixth (1/6) of the estimated total annual payments from the escrow account.
(ii) Charges during the life of the escrow account. Throughout the life of an escrow account, the servicer may charge the borrower a monthly sum equal to one-twelfth (1/12) of the total annual escrow payments which the servicer reasonably anticipates paying from the account. In addition, the servicer may add an amount to maintain a cushion no greater than one-sixth (1/6) of the estimated total annual payments from the account. However, if a servicer determines through an escrow account analysis that there is a shortage or deficiency, the servicer may require the borrower to pay additional deposits to make up the shortage or eliminate the deficiency, subject to the limitations set forth in § 3500.17(f).
(2) Escrow analysis at creation of escrow account. Before establishing an escrow account, the servicer must conduct an escrow account analysis to determine the amount the borrower must deposit into the escrow account (subject to the limitations of paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section), and the amount of the borrower's periodic payments into the escrow account (subject to the limitations of paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section). In conducting the escrow account analysis, the servicer must estimate the disbursement amounts according to paragraph (c)(7) of this section. Pursuant to paragraph (k) of this section, the servicer must use a date on or before the deadline to avoid a penalty as the disbursement date for the escrow item and comply with any other requirements of paragraph (k) of this section. Upon completing the initial escrow account analysis, the servicer must prepare and deliver an initial escrow account statement to the borrower, as set forth in paragraph (g) of this section. The servicer must use the escrow account analysis to determine whether a surplus, shortage, or deficiency exists and must make any adjustments to the account pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section.
(3) Subsequent escrow account analyses. For each escrow account, the servicer must conduct an escrow account analysis at the completion of the escrow account computation year to determine the borrower's monthly escrow account payments for the next computation year, subject to the limitations of paragraph (c)(1)(ii) of this section. In conducting the escrow account analysis, the servicer must estimate the disbursement amounts according to paragraph (c)(7) of this section. Pursuant to paragraph (k) of this section, the servicer must use a date on or before the deadline to avoid a penalty as the disbursement date for the escrow item and comply with any other requirements of paragraph (k) of this section. The servicer must use the escrow account analysis to determine whether a surplus, shortage, or deficiency exists, and must make any adjustments to the account pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section. Upon completing an escrow account analysis, the servicer must prepare and submit an annual escrow account statement to the borrower, as set forth in paragraph (i) of this section.
(4) Aggregate accounting required. All servicers must use the aggregate accounting method in conducting escrow account analyses.
(5) Cushion. The cushion must be no greater than one-sixth (1/6) of the estimated total annual disbursements from the escrow account.
(6) Restrictions on pre-accrual. A servicer must not practice pre-accrual.
(7) Servicer estimates of disbursement amounts. To conduct an escrow account analysis, the servicer shall estimate the amount of escrow account items to be disbursed. If the servicer knows the charge for an escrow item in the next computation year, then the servicer shall use that amount in estimating disbursement amounts. If the charge is unknown to the servicer, the servicer may base the estimate on the preceding year's charge, or the preceding year's charge as modified by an amount not exceeding the most recent year's change in the national Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI, all items). In cases of unassessed new construction, the servicer may base an estimate on the assessment of comparable residential property in the market area.
(8) Provisions in mortgage documents. The servicer must examine the mortgage loan documents to determine the applicable cushion for each escrow account. If the mortgage loan documents provide for lower cushion limits, then the terms of the loan documents apply. Where the terms of any mortgage loan document allow greater payments to an escrow account than allowed by this section, then this section controls the applicable limits. Where the mortgage loan documents do not specifically establish an escrow account, whether a servicer may establish an escrow account for the loan is a matter for determination by other Federal or State law. If the mortgage loan document is silent on the escrow account limits and a servicer establishes an escrow account under other Federal or State law, then the limitations of this section apply unless applicable Federal or State law provides for a lower amount. If the loan documents provide for escrow accounts up to the RESPA limits, then the servicer may require the maximum amounts consistent with this section, unless an applicable Federal or State law sets a lesser amount.
(9) Assessments for periods longer than one year. Some escrow account items may be billed for periods longer than one year. For example, servicers may need to collect flood insurance or water purification escrow funds for payment every three years. In such cases, the servicer shall estimate the borrower's payments for a full cycle of disbursements. For a flood insurance premium payable every 3 years, the servicer shall collect the payments reflecting 36 equal monthly amounts. For two out of the three years, however, the account balance may not reach its low monthly balance because the low point will be on a three-year cycle, as compared to an annual one. The annual escrow account statement shall explain this situation (see example in the HUD Public Guidance Document entitled “Annual Escrow Account Disclosure Statement—Example”, available in accordance with § 3500.3).
(d) Methods of escrow account analysis.
(1) The following sets forth the steps servicers must use to determine whether their use of aggregate analysis conforms with the limitations in § 3500.17(c)(1). The steps set forth in this section result in maximum limits. Servicers may use accounting procedures that result in lower target balances. In particular, servicers may use a cushion less than the permissible cushion or no cushion at all. This section does not require the use of a cushion.
(2) Aggregate analysis.
(i) In conducting the escrow account analysis using aggregate analysis, the target balances may not exceed the balances computed according to the following arithmetic operations:
(A) The servicer first projects a trial balance for the account as a whole over the next computation year (a trial running balance). In doing so the servicer assumes that it will make estimated disbursements on or before the earlier of the deadline to take advantage of discounts, if available, or the deadline to avoid a penalty. The servicer does not use pre-accrual on these disbursement dates. The servicer also assumes that the borrower will make monthly payments equal to one-twelfth of the estimated total annual escrow account disbursements.
(B) The servicer then examines the monthly trial balances and adds to the first monthly balance an amount just sufficient to bring the lowest monthly trial balance to zero, and adjusts all other monthly balances accordingly.
(C) The servicer then adds to the monthly balances the permissible cushion. The cushion is two months of the borrower's escrow payments to the servicer or a lesser amount specified by State law or the mortgage document (net of any increases or decreases because of prior year shortages or surpluses, respectively).
(ii) Lowest monthly balance. Under aggregate analysis, the lowest monthly target balance for the account shall be less than or equal to one-sixth of the estimated total annual escrow account disbursements or a lesser amount specified by State law or the mortgage document. The target balances that the servicer derives using these steps yield the maximum limit for the escrow account. Appendix E to this part illustrates these steps.
(e) Transfer of servicing.
(1) If the new servicer changes either the monthly payment amount or the accounting method used by the transferor (old) servicer, then the new servicer shall provide the borrower with an initial escrow account statement within 60 days of the date of servicing transfer.
(i) Where a new servicer provides an initial escrow account statement upon the transfer of servicing, the new servicer shall use the effective date of the transfer of servicing to establish the new escrow account computation year.
(ii) Where the new servicer retains the monthly payments and accounting method used by the transferor servicer, then the new servicer may continue to use the escrow account computation year established by the transferor servicer or may choose to establish a different computation year using a short-year statement. At the completion of the escrow account computation year or any short year, the new servicer shall perform an escrow analysis and provide the borrower with an annual escrow account statement.
(2) The new servicer shall treat shortages, surpluses and deficiencies in the transferred escrow account according to the procedures set forth in § 3500.17(f).
(f) Shortages, surpluses, and deficiencies requirements—
(1) Escrow account analysis. For each escrow account, the servicer shall conduct an escrow account analysis to determine whether a surplus, shortage or deficiency exists.
(i) As noted in § 3500.17(c)(2) and (3), the servicer shall conduct an escrow account analysis upon establishing an escrow account and at completion of the escrow account computation year.
(ii) The servicer may conduct an escrow account analysis at other times during the escrow computation year. If a servicer advances funds in paying a disbursement, which is not the result of a borrower's payment default under the underlying mortgage document, then the servicer shall conduct an escrow account analysis to determine the extent of the deficiency before seeking repayment of the funds from the borrower under this paragraph (f).
(2) Surpluses.
(i) If an escrow account analysis discloses a surplus, the servicer shall, within 30 days from the date of the analysis, refund the surplus to the borrower if the surplus is greater than or equal to 50 dollars ($50). If the surplus is less than 50 dollars ($50), the servicer may refund such amount to the borrower, or credit such amount against the next year's escrow payments.
(ii) These provisions regarding surpluses apply if the borrower is current at the time of the escrow account analysis. A borrower is current if the servicer receives the borrower's payments within 30 days of the payment due date. If the servicer does not receive the borrower's payment within 30 days of the payment due date, then the servicer may retain the surplus in the escrow account pursuant to the terms of the mortgage loan documents.
(iii) After an initial or annual escrow analysis has been performed, the servicer and the borrower may enter into a voluntary agreement for the forthcoming escrow accounting year for the borrower to deposit funds into the escrow account for that year greater than the limits established under paragraph (c) of this section. Such an agreement shall cover only one escrow accounting year, but a new voluntary agreement may be entered into after the next escrow analysis is performed. The voluntary agreement may not alter how surpluses are to be treated when the next escrow analysis is performed at the end of the escrow accounting year covered by the voluntary agreement.
(3) Shortages.
(i) If an escrow account analysis discloses a shortage of less than one month's escrow account payment, then the servicer has three possible courses of action:
(A) The servicer may allow a shortage to exist and do nothing to change it;
(B) The servicer may require the borrower to repay the shortage amount within 30 days; or
(C) The servicer may require the borrower to repay the shortage amount in equal monthly payments over at least a 12-month period.
(ii) If an escrow account analysis discloses a shortage that is greater than or equal to one month's escrow account payment, then the servicer has two possible courses of action:
(A) The servicer may allow a shortage to exist and do nothing to change it; or
(B) The servicer may require the borrower to repay the shortage in equal monthly payments over at least a 12-month period.
(4) Deficiency. If the escrow account analysis confirms a deficiency, then the servicer may require the borrower to pay additional monthly deposits to the account to eliminate the deficiency.
(i) If the deficiency is less than one month's escrow account payment, then the servicer:
(A) May allow the deficiency to exist and do nothing to change it;
(B) May require the borrower to repay the deficiency within 30 days; or
(C) May require the borrower to repay the deficiency in 2 or more equal monthly payments.
(ii) If the deficiency is greater than or equal to 1 month's escrow payment, the servicer may allow the deficiency to exist and do nothing to change it or may require the borrower to repay the deficiency in two or more equal monthly payments.
(iii) These provisions regarding deficiencies apply if the borrower is current at the time of the escrow account analysis. A borrower is current if the servicer receives the borrower's payments within 30 days of the payment due date. If the servicer does not receive the borrower's payment within 30 days of the payment due date, then the servicer may recover the deficiency pursuant to the terms of the mortgage loan documents.
(5) Notice of shortage or deficiency in escrow account. The servicer shall notify the borrower at least once during the escrow account computation year if there is a shortage or deficiency in the escrow account. The notice may be part of the annual escrow account statement or it may be a separate document.
(g) Initial escrow account statement.
(1) Submission at settlement, or within 45 calendar days of settlement. As noted in § 3500.17(c)(2), the servicer shall conduct an escrow account analysis before establishing an escrow account to determine the amount the borrower shall deposit into the escrow account, subject to the limitations of § 3500.17(c)(1)(i). After conducting the escrow account analysis for each escrow account, the servicer shall submit an initial escrow account statement to the borrower at settlement or within 45 calendar days of settlement for escrow accounts that are established as a condition of the loan.
(i) The initial escrow account statement shall include the amount of the borrower's monthly mortgage payment and the portion of the monthly payment going into the escrow account and shall itemize the estimated taxes, insurance premiums, and other charges that the servicer reasonably anticipates to be paid from the escrow account during the escrow account computation year and the anticipated disbursement dates of those charges. The initial escrow account statement shall indicate the amount that the servicer selects as a cushion. The statement shall include a trial running balance for the account.
(ii) Pursuant to § 3500.17(h)(2), the servicer may incorporate the initial escrow account statement into the HUD-1 or HUD-1A settlement statement. If the servicer does not incorporate the initial escrow account statement into the HUD-1 or HUD-1A settlement statement, then the servicer shall submit the initial escrow account statement to the borrower as a separate document.
(2) Time of submission of initial escrow account statement for an escrow account established after settlement. For escrow accounts established after settlement (and which are not a condition of the loan), a servicer shall submit an initial escrow account statement to a borrower within 45 calendar days of the date of establishment of the escrow account.
(h) Format for initial escrow account statement.
(1) The format and a completed example for an initial escrow account statement are set out in HUD Public Guidance Documents entitled “Initial Escrow Account Disclosure Statement—Format” and “Initial Escrow Account Disclosure Statement—Example”, available in accordance with § 3500.3.
(2) Incorporation of initial escrow account statement into HUD-1 or HUD-1A settlement statement. Pursuant to § 3500.9(a)(11), a servicer may add the initial escrow account statement to the HUD-1 or HUD-1A settlement statement. The servicer may include the initial escrow account statement in the basic text or may attach the initial escrow account statement as an additional page to the HUD-1 or HUD-1A settlement statement.
(3) Identification of payees. The initial escrow account statement need not identify a specific payee by name if it provides sufficient information to identify the use of the funds. For example, appropriate entries include: county taxes, hazard insurance, condominium dues, etc. If a particular payee, such as a taxing body, receives more than one payment during the escrow account computation year, the statement shall indicate each payment and disbursement date. If there are several taxing authorities or insurers, the statement shall identify each taxing body or insurer (e.g., “City Taxes”, “School Taxes”, “Hazard Insurance”, or “Flood Insurance,” etc.).
(i) Annual escrow account statements. For each escrow account, a servicer shall submit an annual escrow account statement to the borrower within 30 days of the completion of the escrow account computation year. The servicer shall also submit to the borrower the previous year's projection or initial escrow account statement. The servicer shall conduct an escrow account analysis before submitting an annual escrow account statement to the borrower.
(1) Contents of annual escrow account statement. The annual escrow account statement shall provide an account history, reflecting the activity in the escrow account during the escrow account computation year, and a projection of the activity in the account for the next year. In preparing the statement, the servicer may assume scheduled payments and disbursements will be made for the final 2 months of the escrow account computation year. The annual escrow account statement must include, at a minimum, the following (the items in paragraphs (i)(1)(i) through (i)(1)(iv) must be clearly itemized):
(i) The amount of the borrower's current monthly mortgage payment and the portion of the monthly payment going into the escrow account;
(ii) The amount of the past year's monthly mortgage payment and the portion of the monthly payment that went into the escrow account;
(iii) The total amount paid into the escrow account during the past computation year;
(iv) The total amount paid out of the escrow account during the same period for taxes, insurance premiums, and other charges (as separately identified);
(v) The balance in the escrow account at the end of the period;
(vi) An explanation of how any surplus is being handled by the servicer;
(vii) An explanation of how any shortage or deficiency is to be paid by the borrower; and
(viii) If applicable, the reason(s) why the estimated low monthly balance was not reached, as indicated by noting differences between the most recent account history and last year's projection. HUD Public Guidance Documents entitled “Annual Escrow Account Disclosure Statement—Format” and “Annual Escrow Account Disclosure Statement—Example” set forth an acceptable format and methodology for conveying this information.
(2) No annual statements in the case of default, foreclosure, or bankruptcy. This paragraph (i)(2) contains an exemption from the provisions of § 3500.17(i)(1). If at the time the servicer conducts the escrow account analysis the borrower is more than 30 days overdue, then the servicer is exempt from the requirements of submitting an annual escrow account statement to the borrower under § 3500.17(i). This exemption also applies in situations where the servicer has brought an action for foreclosure under the underlying mortgage loan, or where the borrower is in bankruptcy proceedings. If the servicer does not issue an annual statement pursuant to this exemption and the loan subsequently is reinstated or otherwise becomes current, the servicer shall provide a history of the account since the last annual statement (which may be longer than 1 year) within 90 days of the date the account became current.
(3) Delivery with other material. The servicer may deliver the annual escrow account statement to the borrower with other statements or materials, including the Substitute 1098, which is provided for federal income tax purposes.
(4) Short year statements. A servicer may issue a short year annual escrow account statement (“short year statement”) to change one escrow account computation year to another. By using a short year statement a servicer may adjust its production schedule or alter the escrow account computation year for the escrow account.
(i) Effect of short year statement. The short year statement shall end the “escrow account computation year” for the escrow account and establish the beginning date of the new escrow account computation year. The servicer shall deliver the short year statement to the borrower within 60 days from the end of the short year.
(ii) Short year statement upon servicing transfer. Upon the transfer of servicing, the transferor (old) servicer shall submit a short year statement to the borrower within 60 days of the effective date of transfer.
(iii) Short year statement upon loan payoff. If a borrower pays off a mortgage loan during the escrow account computation year, the servicer shall submit a short year statement to the borrower within 60 days after receiving the pay-off funds.
(j) Formats for annual escrow account statement. The formats and completed examples for annual escrow account statements using single-item analysis (pre-rule accounts) and aggregate analysis are set out in HUD Public Guidance Documents entitled “Annual Escrow Account Disclosure Statement—Format” and “Annual Escrow Account Disclosure Statement—Example”.
(k) Timely payments.
(1) If the terms of any federally related mortgage loan require the borrower to make payments to an escrow account, the servicer must pay the disbursements in a timely manner, that is, on or before the deadline to avoid a penalty, as long as the borrower's payment is not more than 30 days overdue.
(2) The servicer must advance funds to make disbursements in a timely manner as long as the borrower's payment is not more than 30 days overdue. Upon advancing funds to pay a disbursement, the servicer may seek repayment from the borrower for the deficiency pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section.
(3) For the payment of property taxes from the escrow account, if a taxing jurisdiction offers a servicer a choice between annual and installment disbursements, the servicer must also comply with this paragraph (k)(3). If the taxing jurisdiction neither offers a discount for disbursements on a lump sum annual basis nor imposes any additional charge or fee for installment disbursements, the servicer must make disbursements on an installment basis. If, however, the taxing jurisdiction offers a discount for disbursements on a lump sum annual basis or imposes any additional charge or fee for installment disbursements, the servicer may at the servicer's discretion (but is not required by RESPA to), make lump sum annual disbursements in order to take advantage of the discount for the borrower or avoid the additional charge or fee for installments, as long as such method of disbursement complies with paragraphs (k)(1) and (k)(2) of this section. HUD encourages, but does not require, the servicer to follow the preference of the borrower, if such preference is known to the servicer.
(4) Notwithstanding paragraph (k)(3) of this section, a servicer and borrower may mutually agree, on an individual case basis, to a different disbursement basis (installment or annual) or disbursement date for property taxes from that required under paragraph (k)(3) of this section, so long as the agreement meets the requirements of paragraphs (k)(1) and (k)(2) of this section. The borrower must voluntarily agree; neither loan approval nor any term of the loan may be conditioned on the borrower's agreeing to a different disbursement basis or disbursement date.
(l) System of recordkeeping.
(1) Each servicer shall keep records, which may involve electronic storage, microfiche storage, or any method of computerized storage, so long as the information is easily retrievable, reflecting the servicer's handling of each borrower's escrow account. The servicer's records shall include, but not be limited to, the payment of amounts into and from the escrow account and the submission of initial and annual escrow account statements to the borrower.
(2) The servicer responsible for servicing the borrower's escrow account shall maintain the records for that account for a period of at least five years after the servicer last serviced the escrow account.
(3) A servicer shall provide the Secretary with information contained in the servicer's records for a specific escrow account, or for a number or class of escrow accounts, within 30 days of the Secretary's written request for the information. The servicer shall convert any information contained in electronic storage, microfiche or computerized storage to paper copies for review by the Secretary.
(i) To aid in investigations, the Secretary may also issue an administrative subpoena for the production of documents, and for the testimony of such witnesses as the Secretary deems advisable.
(ii) If the subpoenaed party refuses to obey the Secretary's administrative subpoena, the Secretary is authorized to seek a court order requiring compliance with the subpoena from any United States district court. Failure to obey such an order of the court may be punished as contempt of court.
(4) Borrowers may seek information contained in the servicer's records by complying with the provisions set forth in 12 U.S.C. 2605(e) and § 3500.21(f).
(5) After receiving a request (by letter or subpoena) from the Department for information relating to whether a servicer submitted an escrow account statement to the borrower, the servicer shall respond within 30 days. If the servicer is unable to provide the Department with such information, the Secretary shall deem that lack of information to be evidence of the servicer's failure to submit the statement to the borrower.
(m) Penalties.
(1) A servicer's failure to submit to a borrower an initial or annual escrow account statement meeting the requirements of this part shall constitute a violation of section 10(d) of RESPA (12 U.S.C. 2609(d)) and this section. For each such violation, the Secretary shall assess a civil penalty of 75 dollars ($75), except that the total of the assessed penalties shall not exceed $130,000 for any one servicer for violations that occur during any consecutive 12-month period.
(2) Violations described in paragraph (m)(1) of this section do not require any proof of intent. However, if a lender or servicer is shown to have intentionally disregarded the requirements that it submit the escrow account statement to the borrower, then the Secretary shall assess a civil penalty of $110 for each violation, with no limit on the total amount of the penalty.
(n) Civil penalties procedures. The following procedures shall apply whenever the Department seeks to impose a civil money penalty for violation of section 10(c) of RESPA (12 U.S.C. 2609(c)):
(1) Purpose and scope. This paragraph (n) explains the procedures by which the Secretary may impose penalties under 12 U.S.C. 2609(d). These procedures include administrative hearings, judicial review, and collection of penalties. This paragraph (n) governs penalties imposed under 12 U.S.C. 2609(d) and, when noted, adopts those portions of 24 CFR part 30 that apply to all other civil penalty proceedings initiated by the Secretary.
(2) Authority. The Secretary has the authority to impose civil penalties under section 10(d) of RESPA (12 U.S.C. 2609(d)).
(3) Notice of intent to impose civil money penalties. Whenever the Secretary intends to impose a civil money penalty for violations of section 10(c) of RESPA (12 U.S.C. 2609(c)), the responsible program official, or his or her designee, shall serve a written Notice of Intent to Impose Civil Money Penalties (Notice of Intent) upon any servicer on which the Secretary intends to impose the penalty. A copy of the Notice of Intent must be filed with the Docket Clerk, Office of Administrative Law Judges, at the address provided in the Notice of Intent. The Notice of Intent will provide:
(i) A short, plain statement of the facts upon which the Secretary has determined that a civil money penalty should be imposed, including a brief description of the specific violations under 12 U.S.C. 2609(c) with which the servicer is charged and whether such violations are believed to be intentional or unintentional in nature, or a combination thereof;
(ii) The amount of the civil money penalty that the Secretary intends to impose and whether the limitations in 12 U.S.C. 2609(d)(1), apply;
(iii) The right of the servicer to a hearing on the record to appeal the Secretary's preliminary determination to impose a civil penalty;
(iv) The procedures to appeal the penalty;
(v) The consequences of failure to appeal the penalty; and
(vi) The name, address, and telephone number of the representative of the Department, and the address of the Docket Clerk, Office of Administrative Law Judges, should the servicer decide to appeal the penalty.
(4) Appeal procedures.
(i) Answer. To appeal the imposition of a penalty, a servicer shall, within 30 days after receiving service of the Notice of Intent, file a written Answer with the Docket Clerk, Office of Administrative Law Judges, Department of Housing and Urban Development, at the address provided in the Notice of Intent. The Answer shall include a statement that the servicer admits, denies, or does not have (and is unable to obtain) sufficient information to admit or deny each allegation made in the Notice of Intent. A statement of lack of information shall have the effect of a denial. Any allegation that is not denied shall be deemed admitted. Failure to submit an Answer within the required period of time will result in a decision by the Administrative Law Judge based upon the Department's submission of evidence in the Notice of Intent.
(ii) Submission of evidence. A servicer that receives the Notice of Intent has a right to present evidence. Evidence must be submitted within 45 calendar days from the date of service of the Notice of Intent, or by such other time as may be established by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The servicer's failure to submit evidence within the required period of time will result in a decision by the Administrative Law Judge based upon the Department's submission of evidence in the Notice of Intent. The servicer may present evidence of the following:
(A) The servicer did submit the required escrow account statement(s) to the borrower(s); or
(B) Even if the servicer did not submit the required statement(s), that the failure was not the result of an intentional disregard of the requirements of RESPA (for purposes of determining the penalty).
(iii) Review of the record. The Administrative Law Judge will review the evidence submitted by the servicer, if any, and that submitted by the Department. The Administrative Law Judge shall make a determination based upon a review of the written record, except that the Administrative Law Judge may order an oral hearing if he or she finds that the determination turns on the credibility or veracity of a witness, or that the matter cannot be resolved by review of the documentary evidence. If the Administrative Law Judge decides that an oral hearing is appropriate, then the procedural rules set forth at 24 CFR part 30 shall apply, to the extent that they are not inconsistent with this section.
(iv) Burden of proof. The burden of proof or the burden of going forward with the evidence shall be upon the proponent of an action. The Department's submission of evidence that the servicer's system of records lacks information that the servicer submitted the escrow account statement(s) to the borrower(s) shall satisfy the Department's burden. Upon the Department's presentation of evidence of this lack of information in the servicer's system of records, the burden of proof shifts from the Secretary to the servicer to provide evidence that it submitted the statement(s) to the borrower.
(v) Standard of proof. The standard of proof shall be the preponderance of the evidence.
(5) Determination of the Administrative Law Judge.
(i) Following the hearing or the review of the written record, the Administrative Law Judge shall issue a decision that shall contain findings of fact, conclusions of law, and the amount of any penalties imposed. The decision shall include a determination of whether the servicer has failed to submit any required statements and, if so, whether the servicer's failure was the result of an intentional disregard for the law's requirements.
(ii) The Administrative Law Judge shall issue the decision to all parties within 30 days of the submission of the evidence or the post-hearing briefs, whichever is the last to occur.
(iii) The decision of the Administrative Law Judge shall constitute the final decision of the Department and shall be final and binding on the parties.
(6) Judicial review.
(i) A person against whom the Department has imposed a civil money penalty under this part may obtain a review of the Department's final decision by filing a written petition for a review of the record with the appropriate United States district court.
(ii) The petition must be filed within 30 days after the decision is filed with the Docket Clerk, Office of Administrative Law Judges.
(7) Collection of penalties.
(i) If any person fails to comply with the Department's final decision imposing a civil money penalty, the Secretary, if the time for judicial review of the decision has expired, may request the Attorney General to bring an action in an appropriate United States district court to obtain a judgment against the person that has failed to comply with the Department's final decision.
(ii) In any such collection action, the validity and appropriateness of the Department's final decision imposing the civil penalty shall not be subject to review in the district court.
(iii) The Secretary may obtain such other relief as may be available, including attorney fees and other expenses in connection with the collection action.
(iv) Interest on and other charges for any unpaid penalty may be assessed in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3717.
(8) Offset. In addition to any other rights as a creditor, the Secretary may seek to collect a civil money penalty through administrative offset.
(9) At any time before the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, the Secretary and the servicer may enter into an administrative settlement. The settlement may include provisions for interest, attorney's fees, and costs related to the proceeding. Such settlement will terminate the appearance before the Administrative Law Judge.
(o) Discretionary payments. Any borrower's discretionary payment (such as credit life or disability insurance) made as part of a monthly mortgage payment is to be noted on the initial and annual statements. If a discretionary payment is established or terminated during the escrow account computation year, this change should be noted on the next annual statement. A discretionary payment is not part of the escrow account unless the payment is required by the lender, in accordance with the definition of “settlement service” in § 3500.2, or the servicer chooses to place the discretionary payment in the escrow account. If a servicer has not established an escrow account for a federally related mortgage loan and only receives payments for discretionary items, this section is not applicable.
(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 2502-0501)
[61 FR 13233, Mar. 26, 1996, as amended at 61 FR 46510, Sept. 3, 1996; 61 FR 50219, Sept. 24, 1996; 61 FR 58476, Nov. 15, 1996; 63 FR 3236, Jan. 21, 1998; 68 FR 12789, Mar. 17, 2003; 72 FR 5589, Feb. 6, 2007; 73 FR 68242, Nov. 17, 2008; 74 FR 4636, Jan. 26, 2009]

Title 24 published on 2014-04-01

The following are only the Rules published in the Federal Register after the published date of Title 24.

For a complete list of all Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices view the Rulemaking tab.

  • 2014-06-16; vol. 79 # 115 - Monday, June 16, 2014
    1. 79 FR 34224 - Removal of Regulations Transferred to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, Office of the Secretary, HUD
      Final rule.
      Effective Date: July 16, 2014.
      24 CFR Parts 1710, 1715, 1720, 3400, and 3500

Title 24 published on 2014-04-01

The following are ALL rules, proposed rules, and notices (chronologically) published in the Federal Register relating to 24 CFR 3500 after this date.

  • 2014-06-16; vol. 79 # 115 - Monday, June 16, 2014
    1. 79 FR 34224 - Removal of Regulations Transferred to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
      GPO FDSys XML | Text
      DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, Office of the Secretary, HUD
      Final rule.
      Effective Date: July 16, 2014.
      24 CFR Parts 1710, 1715, 1720, 3400, and 3500