On December 1st, the FLSA “Overtime Rule” is being updated. Who does this affect?

Back in May 2016 the Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced that effective December 1st, 2016 employers would have to raise the salary level of exempt employees to $47,476 per year for the employee to still be considered exempt. That is about $900 a week.

Now I am getting panic calls and emails asking me if this means you should increase your mortgage loan originator hourly wages to keep the exemption. So here comes the shocker.  

Folks, your mortgage loan originators are NOT exempt. This December 1st rule applies to true administrative employees and managers. Based on last years DOL ruling, this new ruling does NOT apply to mortgage loan originators. MLOs have not been exempt since May of 2015. The MB had sued the DOL to make them exempt, but SCOTUS agreed with the DOL regarding the DOL ruling that MLOs were not exempt because MLOs were involved in sales.

Let’s start out with the history behind the rule.

Under the old administrative exemption of the FLSA, employees who are paid on a salary basis of at least $455 per week (pre-December 1st 2016) may be exempt from overtime compensation if the employee’s primary duty is the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers, and their primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. Employees in the financial services industry generally meet the duties requirements for this exemption if their duties include work such as collecting and analyzing information regarding the customer’s income, assets, investments, or debts; determining which financial products best meet the customer’s needs and financial circumstances; advising the customer regarding the advantages and disadvantages of different financial products; and marketing, servicing, or promoting the employer’s financial products; provided, however, that their primary duty is not selling financial products.

There’s the rub: provided their primary duty is NOT selling financial products.

So, pretty much, any MLO who is originating cannot be considered exempt any longer. So December 1st does not affect them. It affects non-selling managers and administrative staff. The new level of over $900 a week is real. That is what you should review.  

Back to your MLOs. What can you do to protect yourself from being sued for overtime by a disgruntled or opportunistic former MLO?

  • Don’t fight the rule but rather have a policy in writing that prohibits any non-exempt employee (which is what the DOL calls your MLO staff) work beyond 35 hours a week unless approved in writing.
  • If you enforce this strongly I think this creates a rebuttable presumption for the DOL that you may have used your best reasonable efforts to comply.
  • You may experience an MLO who stepped outside his job description if he worked more hours than 35 hours a week without written approval. If you kept an eye on him or her and then they raise this issue, you can counter with an “ultra vires” or “frolic and detour” argument. The key to this is to enforce your policy and keep an eye on your non-exempt employees.
  • You would need a procedure in place that creates and monitors regular non-exempt employee time sheets and has your non-exempt employee sign a certification about hours worked under penalty of perjury every pay period, whether they have commission due or not. And you would need to demonstrate you enforce your rule and send people home when appropriate.

SUMMARY: Mortgage Loan Originators are non-exempt employees. As such they are subject to the protections of the overtime rule of the FLSA. If you don’t monitor and manage their hours worked, you can end up in a very bad place. Don’t prohibit overtime; rather require they obtain your pre-approval in writing. Next, monitor every pay period with non-exempt employee certification regarding hours reported. Keep these records carefully. When you find a violator, be able to show you enforce your own rules.

ONE FINAL COMMENT. We are still engaging with plenty of loan originators who think they can be paid as a 1099 contractor. The DOL decision applies the common law definition of employee.

Here you go, compliments of Black’s Law Dictionary. “Black Letter Law”.

“An employee is a person who works in the service of an employer under an express or implied contract of hire, under which the employer has the right to control the details of the work performed.”  

So you have a license that requires a sponsor who is paid instead of you, who provides you with documents, compliance overview, and training, and maybe even leads. And you must originate and process your loans under his or her direction. And then, your employer has to pay you from what he is paid, because you cannot be paid directly under the current rules.

If you still think you are independent, you are just not listening.  You are an employee.

 Respectfully,

 Nelson A. Locke, Esq.

Mortgage Industry Compliance Expert

Attorney and Expert Witness

Office (800) 656-4584

Cell (305) 951-2785

http://www.lockelaw.us

http://expertlenderservices.com

I’m not changing my mind on this one. An NMLS sponsored MLO is an employee. Period.

October 18th, 2016

The debate rages on. Unfortunately, most of those who have challenged our position that an MLO must be a W-2 – are either asking the wrong people for advice, or are not asking the question in an open and honest way.

If you have found an attorney who is telling you your 1099 practice is just fine, ask him for his written legal opinion. You will need that to show to the regulator that makes this an issue. While it won’t guarantee you won’t have a finding or fine, it is a defense of sort. Except I warned you, didn’t I. And the attorney won’t pay your fine for you.

The only reasonable conclusion is that a sponsored MLO is an employee.

We include the attachment titled 22-mlo-w2-discussion-021015 to our clients at the front of our MLO Policy Manual – Book Two. You should read this first. Let’s set the stage.  

Now, if you are saying your state regulator is ignoring this issue their misfeasance does not mean you are not at personal risk for violating Safe Act, CFPB, IRS, and DOJ rules. The facts are clear – the CFPB has asked the states to look for violations of federal regs when auditing. When the CFPB issued its updated exam guidance, it again asked the states to assist.

Now see attached pdf extractions, highlighted sections. The cfpb-exam-manual-irs-references-and-employee-definition-101816 is a 924 page “guide”. I saved you some time and copied the three pages that matter for you. Next, look at originatorcompensation-and-thefedrule_q-a. This is a transcript from an Industry Legal Webinar held in 2011.

Note the reference to the common law test – the common law definition of employee. Not YOUR definition, but what the IRS test uses to determine if a MLO is independent, or not. Let me give it to you here.

Directly from the IRS:

Under common-law rules, anyone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done. This is so even when you give the employee freedom of action. What matters is that you have the right to control the details of how the services are performed.

You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed.

NOW about the Fair Labor Standards Act:

In an attempt to interpret provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and discern between employee and independent contractor status, courts and federal agencies have come up with the “economic realities test.” It looks at the dependence of the worker on the business for which he or she works. If a person gains a large portion of their salary or commission from that business, chances are that person qualifies as an employee.

These courts also use the “right to control” test. When the hiring party controls the way work is carried out and a product is delivered, the relationship between the parties is employer/employee. If you are sponsored and your Broker has to answer for your work, you are an employee.

If an employer does not have any authority over how a party accomplishes his or her work the relationship between the parties is that of independent contractor. But that can’t be: you are sponsored, right? And can only “work” at one place at a time, right?

We are always looking for new clients. If you need to tighten up your compliance efforts, call us at (800) 656-4584.

Don’t get excited, not gonna happen.

By a vote of 30-26 earlier this week, the House Financial Services Committee approved the “The Financial CHOICE Act of 2016” (H.R. 5983), the bill released in July 2016 by Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling to replace the Dodd-Frank Act.  All Democrats on the Committee voted against the bill as did one Republican member.  No amendments were offered by Democratic members.

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The sections of the bill dealing with the CFPB are found in Title III, entitled “Empowering Americans to Achieve Financial Independence.”  Subtitles A and B entitled, respectively, “Separation of Powers and Liberty Enhancements” and “Administrative Enhancements,” contain provisions that would change the CFPB’s structure, funding, and operation. For example, such provisions would change the CFPB’s name to the “Consumer Financial Opportunity Commission,” replace the current single director with a bipartisan, five-member commission, fund the commission through the appropriations process, require the commission to verify consumer complaint information before making it publicly available, and require the commission to establish a procedure for issuing written advisory opinions.

Subtitle C, entitled “Policy Enhancements,” contains provisions directed at the CFPB’s regulatory authority.  For example, such provisions would repeal the CFPB’s authority to prohibit consumer financial services or products it deems “abusive” and to prohibit the use of arbitration agreements, repeal the CFPB’s indirect auto lending guidance and require use of the notice and comment process for any new proposed guidance, and authorize the commission to grant a 5-year waiver from a payday lending rule to any state or federally-recognized Indian tribe that requests such a waiver.

While the bill is not expected to be passed by Congress this year, depending on the outcome of the Presidential election, it could serve as a roadmap for future legislative change.

Thank you, CFPB. Nice job writing this press release. Written without bias, I am sure.

Give us a call to learn more about how we can serve you with an outstanding and affordable Compliance Program. (800) 656-4584

Compliance Services Web Site

If in doubt, get a license.

I am being barraged by questions regarding commercial lending and the need or not to be licensed. The area is not as grey as you may think. The problem is many commercial lenders disguise what would otherwise be a RESPA loan on a 1-4 family – by using LLCs. These lenders and brokers are completely ignoring the legal doctrine of beneficial ownership. And many times these lenders and brokers actually believe that no auditor or regulator has ever seen this scheme before. Really?

Auditor Auditee 022015

I believe that the best business practice for any person originating any kind of mortgage residential or commercial – is to obtain the proper license first.

RESPA is applicable to all “federally related mortgage loans,” except as provided under 1024.5(b). “Federally related mortgage loans” are defined as:  1.A loan secured with a first or subordinate lien on residential property  2.Where a one to four family unit is located  3.Where a properly qualified manufactured home is located or to be constructed 4. Where the loan is made by a proper creditor, lender, or dealer 5. If the loans are insured by an agency of the federal government 6. If the loan is intended to be sold to HUD, FNMA, FHLMC, USDA, or the VA 7. If the loan is a home equity conversion mortgage or reverse mortgage subject to federal regulations.

A true commercial loan is a mortgage loan made on a property that is NOT residential (a 1-4 family unit) and where there is NO possibility the true owner or beneficial owner might occupy the property either as a primary or as a secondary. That goes for citizens or legal aliens or consumers of any kind – if the property is a RESPA property that is going to be used by them it will not matter who you call the borrower or how you try to hide the true ownership. A 1-4 family might fall into an exception but the overwhelming position will be that if it is a 1-4, it is a RESPA loan requiring licensing.

To provide a resource for you that will put all this information on one blog entry, I am providing the following list of state requirements.

The following states may require licensing to originate commercial mortgage real estate loans.

One more time – commercial mortgage loans means a loan secured by real estate that is not a residential 1 to 4 family dwelling.

These states require licensing. Arizona California Illinois North Dakota Nebraska Nevada (Company and LO) South Dakota (Company and LO)

These states show that a license may be required. That means get a license. District of Columbia North Carolina

These states require a license to broker these types of loans. Michigan (Real Estate Broker) – Brokering Only Minnesota (Limited Real Estate Broker) – Brokering Only New York (Real Estate Broker)- Brokering Only New Jersey (Real Estate Broker)- Brokering Only

Regarding FLORIDA – “Most” commercial companies are exempt in Florida providing the property is not a 1-4 family unit or the entity is not a sham LLC. The word “most” is the issue. This is a regulator grey area.

Business Purpose Residential Mortgage Loans – The famous Reg Z exemption 226.3: Brokers and Lenders often refer to non-owner occupied business purpose residential mortgage loans as commercial loans. The following states may require licensing: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.

Here’s my take. Get a license. It increases your credibility and avoids you being pulled into a situation where the regulator believes you needed a license to originate or make the loan. If the regulator believes it, you will lose the argument. Of course, this is just my opinion.

Respectfully,

Nelson A. Locke, Esq.

Mortgage Industry Compliance Expert

Office (800) 656-4584

http://www.lockelaw.us

http://expertlenderservices.com

 

 

 

The CFPB, the CD, and the Realtors…….

Before you go any further, the key word is PROPOSED.
1.   The CFPB has issued a proposed rule with request for public comment containing both substantive amendments and technical corrections (collectively, Proposed Amendments) to the final TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule that became effective on October 3, 2015.  In a press release the CFPB advised that the Proposed Amendments are “intended to formalize guidance in the rule, and provide greater clarity and certainty.”  Comments are due on or before October 18, 2016.  The CFPB is proposing that the final rule based on the proposal would be effective 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, but is expressly requesting comment on the timeframe to implement the Proposed Amendments. THIS MEANS MOST LIKELY EARLY IN 2017.
2.   Four of the Proposed Amendments that are highlighted by the CFPB in the press release would (1) create a tolerance for the total of payment calculation; (2) exclude recording fees and transfer taxes from the one percent fee limit that applies to the TRID rule exemption for down payment assistance and similar subordinate lien loans often made by housing finance agencies, non-profits, and similar entities; (3) amend the scope of the TRID rule to cover units in a cooperative, whether or not they are considered real property; (4) clarify how a creditor may provide separate Closing Disclosures to the consumer and the seller through the removal of information that raises privacy concerns.THE REALTORS HAVE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT NOT RECEIVING THE CD – IF YOU HAVE BEEN GIVING IT TO THE REALTOR YOU MAY HAVE BEEN VIOLATING THE CURRENT PRIVACY RULES – AND IF THIS NEW PROPOSAL IS APPROVED THIS CHANGE WILL HAPPEN AFTER JANUARY, SO DON’T START PASSING OUT CDs LIKE CANDY UNTIL IT IS OK TO DO SO. 
3.   In addition to the CD/Realtor item, the CFPB proposal would make numerous other changes including a change that addresses the so-called “black hole” by providing creditors with greater flexibility to use the Closing Disclosure to reset tolerances.  Currently, only the Loan Estimate may be used to reset tolerances, subject to an exception that permits a creditor to use a Closing Disclosure to reset tolerances in a limited situation.  Essentially, the exception applies when the creditor would not have sufficient time after learning of a change to be able to issue a new Loan Estimate and also satisfy the pre-consummation waiting period requirements under the TRID rule.  The exception has proven to be too narrow in many cases resulting in creditors having to absorb increases in fees or require that the consumer reapply for a loan.  OR CHARGE THE BROKER A CURE FEE. To address these unintended consequences, the CFPB proposes to expand the exception to include both (1) the current situation that is based on the timeframe between when a creditor learns of a change requiring revised disclosures and the consummation of the loan, and (2) any situation in which a Closing Disclosure has already been issued.
4.   Other topics addressed by the Proposed Amendments include affiliate charges, the calculating cash to close table, construction loans, decimal places and rounding, escrow account disclosures, escrow cancellation notices, the treatment of gift funds, the written list of service providers (no surprise there), the distinction between model forms and sample forms, principal reductions, the summaries of transactions table, the total interest percentage calculation, and informational updates to the Loan Estimate.

5.  Now about us. We are attorney owned and our attorney has 24 years experience as a Mortgage Banker. That should speak for itself. Most of our competition does not have that combination of experience. They sell you “policies” and walk away. The CFPB recently identified this type of off the shelf no relationship compliance program as a red flag for examiners. We don’t do that. We offer annual engagements at one price and are with you all year for training, updates, and all your Q&A.

Request our Engagement Package today and we can have your Compliance Program  in really good shape within three weeks.
And you will feel much better about not having to face the regulators alone. But if you try to engage us after you have received your Audit Letter, the price will go up.

 (800) 656-4584

Read my Report on updated EXAM PROCEDURES

This may be the most important update you will ever read about the CFPB and their current Exam strategy.

Recently we obtained specific information about the CFPB’s current Exam Procedures. The information is credible and shows with great clarity what the CFPB expects to accomplish in an exam. It also confirms the CFPB has asked the states to incorporate CFPB and FFIEC procedures into state audits.

The CFPB has also created an Exam Rating System and asked the states to adopt it.  We have been seeing this rating system in use for six months in certain states. It is probably coming to your neighborhood soon.

Read my report and trust me this is worth your time.

CFPB Exam Objectives and Procedures 052616

Call us if you have any questions.

Nelson A. Locke, Esq.

(800) 656-4584

Expert Lender Services Web Site