Saturday, December 07, 2019

New Law: Reverse Mortgages Regulated

On December 6, 2019, A5626 was signed into law to regulate reverse mortgages. The new law takes effect on March 5, 2020. 

A reverse mortgage means "[a] loan which is secured by a first mortgage on real property improved by a one- to four-family residence or condominium that is the residence of the mortgagor(s) the proceeds of which are advanced to the mortgagor(s) during the term of the loan in equal installments, in advances through a line of credit or otherwise, in lump sums, or through a combination thereof."

The new law has the following features at new Real Property Law section 280-b:

  1. Marketing & offering of reverse mortgage loans are regulated to avoid unfair or deceptive practices;
  2. Consumer protection materials are required to be included in marketing such loans & the Superintendent is authorized to promulgate rules & regulations to protect consumers;
  3. Loans that pay taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, or other property obligations must provide the borrower with periodic account statements & a required warning notice;
  4. When the escrowed money for payments of obligations are depleted to 10% or less, the borrower will get a telephone & mailed notice about the borrowers obligations; 
  5. Restricts lenders from paying borrowers obligations on the property (taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, etc.) as advance payments & only permits lenders to pay when there are arrears;
  6. Restricts foreclosures based on primary residence restrictions; 
  7. Requires both the lender & the borrower to be represented by an attorney at the closing of the loan; 
  8. Borrowers who are injured from a violation by a lender have a private right of action for treble damages & reasonable attorneys' fees; & 
  9. Violating this statute by a lender works a complete defense for a borrower in a foreclosure action.