Q: Escrow Small Lender Exception 2 – If a lender was required to escrow for taxes and hazard insurance solely under the (a) Higher-Priced Mortgage Loan (HPML) rules or (b) U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Federal Housing Administration (FHA) programs on or before July 6, 2012, is such a lender, who otherwise qualifies for the small lender exception, required to escrow the premiums and fees for flood insurance?
A: The Act and Regulation provide that a small lender is eligible for the exception only if, on or before July 6, 2012, the lender:
(1) was not required under Federal or State law to deposit taxes, insurance premiums, fees, or any other charges in an escrow account for the entire term of any loan secured by residential improved real estate or a mobile home; and
(2) did not have a policy of consistently and uniformly requiring the deposit of taxes, insurance premiums, fees, or other charges in an escrow account for any loans secured by residential improved real estate or a mobile home.
• With respect to an HPML, Federal law in effect on or before July 6, 2012, permitted a borrower to request cancellation of the escrow rather than have it apply for the entire term of the loan. Therefore, HPML escrow requirements would not result in the loss of the escrow exception for a small lender that made an HPML-covered loan prior to July 6, 2012, because the lender was not required under Federal law to escrow for the entire term of the loan. Note that the phrase “entire term” applies only with respect to the Federal or State law requirements criterion of the exception. In addition, if a lender required escrow for an HPML solely to comply with Federal law, a lender complying with that law would not be considered to have its own separate policy of consistently and uniformly requiring escrow.
• With respect to loans under the USDA or FHA programs, under Federal law, such loans require the deposit of taxes, insurance premiums, fees and other charges in an escrow account for the entire term of the loan. Therefore, the first criterion of the exception would not be met and would disqualify the lender from the small lender exception under the Act and the Regulation.