Right of Rescission

Regulation Z: The Right-of-Rescission

The right-of-rescission rules are technical, and the consequences of noncompliance can be very costly to the Banks.  Take the time to review the right of rescission rules for closed-end credit.

What is the right of rescission?

The right of rescission is a consumer protection law found within the Truth in Lending Act

Truth In Lending Act -- Regulation Z

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Title I of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, is aimed at promoting the informed use of consumer credit by requiring disclosures about its terms and costs. In general, this regulation applies to each individual or business that offers or extends credit when the credit is offered or extended to consumers; the credit is subject to a finance charge or is payable by a written agreement in more than four installments; the credit is primarily for personal, family or household purposes; and the loan balance equals or exceeds $25,000.00 or is secured by an interest in real property or a dwelling.

TILA is intended to enable the customer to compare the cost of cash versus credit transaction and the difference in the cost of credit among different lenders. The regulation also requires a maximum interest rate to be stated in variable rate contracts secured by the borrower's dwelling, imposes limitations on home equity plans that are subject to the requirements of certain sections of the Act and requires a maximum interest that may apply during the term of a mortgage loan. TILA also establishes disclosure standards for advertisements that refer to certain credit terms.

In addition to financial disclosure, TILA provides consumers with substantive rights in connection with certain types of credit transactions to which it relates, including a right of rescission in certain real estate lending transactions, regulation of certain credit card practices and a means for fair and timely resolution of credit billing disputes. This discussion will be limited to those provisions of TILA that relate specifically to the mortgage lending process, including:

1. Early and Final Regulation Z Disclosure Requirements

2. Disclosure Requirements for ARM Loans

3. Right of Rescission

4. Advertising Disclosure Requirements

Early and Final Regulation Z Disclosure Requirements:

TILA requires lenders to make certain disclosures on loans subject to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) within three business days after their receipt of a written application. This early disclosure statement is partially based on the initial information provided by the consumer. A final disclosure statement is provided at the time of loan closing. The disclosure is required to be in a specific format and include the following information:

Disclosure Requirements for ARM Loans:

If the annual percentage rate on a loan secured by the consumer's principal dwelling may increase after consummation and the term of the loan exceeds one year, TILA requires additional adjustable rate mortgage disclosures to be provided, including:

Right of Rescission:

In a credit transaction in which a security interest is or will be retained or acquired in a consumer's principal dwelling, each consumer whose ownership is or will be subject to the security interest has the right to rescind the transaction. Lenders are required to deliver two copies of the notice of the right to rescind and one copy of the disclosure statement to each consumer entitled to rescind. The notice must be on a separate document that identifies the rescission period on the transaction and must clearly and conspicuously disclose the retention or acquisition of a security interest in the consumer's principal dwelling; the consumer's right to rescind the transaction; and how the consumer may exercise the right to rescind with a form for that purpose, designating the address of the lender's place of business.

In order to exercise the right to rescind, the consumer must notify the creditor of the rescission by mail, telegram or other means of communication. Notice is considered given when mailed, filed for telegraphic transmission or sent by other means, when delivered to the lender's designated place of business. The consumer may exercise the right to rescind until midnight of the third business day following consummation of the transaction; delivery of the notice of right to rescind; or delivery of all material disclosures, whichever occurs last. When more than one consumer in a transaction has the right to rescind, the exercise of the right by one consumer shall be effective for all consumers.

When a consumer rescinds a transaction, the security interest giving rise to the right of rescission becomes void and the consumer will no longer be liable for any amount, including any finance charge. Within 20 calendar days after receipt of a notice of rescission, the lender is required to return any money or property that was given to anyone in connection with the transaction and must take any action necessary to reflect the termination of the security interest. If the lender has not delivered any money or property, the consumer may retain possession until the lender has complied with the above.

The consumer may modify or waive the right to rescind if the consumer determines that the extension of credit is needed to meet a bona fide personal financial emergency. To modify or waive the right, the consumer must give the lender a dated written statement that describes the emergency, specifically modifies or waives the right to rescind and bears the signature of all of the consumers entitled to rescind. Printed forms for this purpose are prohibited.

Advertising Disclosure Requirements:

If a lender advertises directly to a consumer, TILA requires the advertisement to disclose the credit terms and rate in a certain manner. If an advertisement for credit states specific credit terms, it may state only those terms that actually are or will be arranged or offered by the lender. If an advertisement states a rate of finance charge, it may state the rate as an "annual percentage rate" (APR) using that term. If the annual percentage rate may be increased after consummation the advertisement must state that fact. The advertisement may not state any other rate, except that a simple annual rate or periodic rate that is applied to an unpaid balance may be stated in conjunction with, but not more conspicuously than, the annual percentage rate.

The closed-end rescission rules discussed in this article are found in Title 12 CFR Regulation Z 226.23

The open-end rescission rules rules discussed in this article are found in Title 12 CFR Regulation Z 226.15

Who is able to rescind a loan?

The right of rescission doesn't apply just to borrowers.  All consumers who have an ownership interest in the property have the right to rescind.

While other parts of Regulation Z typically focus on the borrowers, this is one area where you need to look beyond the applicants, and identify any and all owners of the home being pledged on the transaction. Often times this will require looking at title work and making note of all fee owners of the property.

What does the right of rescission require of lenders?

The right of rescission requires lenders to provide certain "material disclosures" and multiple copies of the right of rescission notice to EACH owner of the property.  Following proper disclosures, lenders must wait at least three business days (until you are reasonably satisfied that the owners have not rescinded) before disbursing loan proceeds.

When does the three-day rescission time clock begin to tick?

The three-day right of rescission period begins once the material disclosures and notice have been given, and lasts three full business days. Business days are defined by Regulation Z to include all calendar days except Sundays and federal holidays. Saturday IS considered a business day for rescission purposes, regardless of whether your offices are open.

In order to properly complete the Notice of Right to Rescind form, you need to know how to calculate the rescission period.  Consider the following example.

Assume a closing is set for Thursday, November 15th, 2001, and that all material disclosures and notices are provided to the parties at that time. The rescission period would run:

Friday, November 16, 2001;

Saturday, November. 17, 2001, and

Monday, November 19, 2001.

Sunday is not counted since it is not considered a business day. The rescission period would end at midnight on November 19, 2001.

When may a borrower waive the right of rescission?

Regulation Z allows borrowers to waive their rescission rights, but this exception only applies in very limited circumstances. The law is protective of the right of rescission, and you should be too.

Borrowers may waive their rescission rights and receive their loan proceeds immediately only if they have what is called a "bona fide personal financial emergency." This means a financial emergency of the magnitude that waiting an additional three days will be personally or financially devastating to the borrower.  It might include situations involving natural disasters such as flooding, or a medical emergency that requires immediate funds. When this type of situation does arise, the borrower must provide a written explanation of his or her circumstances to the financial institution. This is not a document that you should draft for the borrower.

Waiving the right of rescission is not a common practice, mostly because doing it wrong can backfire and create a rescindable loan, causing all kinds of problems down the road.

What happens once the rescission period is over?

After the right-of-rescission period has expired, make sure you feel reasonably certain that the consumer has not rescinded before you disburse the loan proceeds.  There are some risks in disbursing after the third day.  For example, the law allows consumers to exercise their rescission rights by mail, and a rescission is effective when mailed.  Thus, a rescission mailed on the third day after closing is effective even though the lender may not receive it until the fourth or fifth day after the closing. Because of this potential timing problem, Regulation Z suggests that lenders take extra precautions to ensure that the loan has not been rescinded.

To avoid further delay of the loan proceeds, you may want to obtain a confirmation statement from all the owners stating that they have not exercised their rescission rights. Such a written confirmation provides written documentation that the transaction has not been rescinded. Notice of rescission form contains this confirmation language, which can be an effective way to resolve the rescission issue quickly.

(Note, however, that owners should not sign this confirmation until after the three day period is over.  Otherwise, it may look like they have improperly waived their rescission rights.)

What are the consequences of noncompliance?

There are serious consequences for failing to follow the right-of-rescission rules.  First, until a lender provides the material disclosures and the proper Notice of Right to Rescind, the three-business day rescission period does not start to run, and the transaction remains rescindable for up to three years.  And once a consumer rescinds a transaction, the security interest in the property becomes void and you must reimburse the consumer for all of the finance charges collected over the life of the loan.

Keep in mind that most rescission errors are alleged in response to collection actions or other litigation initiated by the lender.  Because of this, it is important to regularly review your institution's right of rescission compliance program generally, as well as to verify compliance on the individual level before initiating action against any one borrower.

The information here is presented by:

The Bank Fraud Victim Center

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