Heather Howell Wright

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Heather Wright helps financial institutions identify operational risks and determine business solutions to mitigate those risks. She provides regulatory and compliance advice and manages litigation for financial institutions regarding compliance with, and alleged violations of, security agreements and other contracts as well as lending and consumer finance statutes and regulations — particularly in matters involving property insurance and flood insurance. View articles by Heather.

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New York DFS Turns Up the Heat with Climate Change Bulletin

The New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) has issued a bulletin on climate change and financial risks to the financial institutions and insurance companies it supervises regarding the impact of climate change on those institutions. DFS asserts that “[f]inancial risks from climate change are unprecedented” and notes a warning from the Bank for International … Continue Reading

In the Strangest Year Ever, We’re Very Thankful and Wish You a Happy Thanksgiving

As everyone steps away from their (home) office to celebrate Thanksgiving, we wanted to count our blessings as we review this truly remarkable and unusual year. In addition to frontline healthcare workers, good WI-FI, food delivery services, and finally finding a mask that is comfortable, we are also thankful for the following: 1. The CARES … Continue Reading

FHA Posts Proposed Rule Permitting Acceptance of Private Flood Insurance

On November 10, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)  released a proposed amendment to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) regulations that would allow lenders to accept private flood insurance policies on FHA-insured properties located in Special Flood Hazard Areas. HUD will accept comments for 60 days following the date the proposed rule, … Continue Reading

Federal Agencies to Update Q&As Regarding Flood Insurance

It has been nine years since the Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Flood Insurance (Flood Insurance Q&As) have seen any revisions. But that’s all about to change. Under the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 (Reform Act), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, … Continue Reading

Agencies Offer Regulatory Assistance in Disaster Affected Areas

On the first day of National Preparedness Month, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors issued a joint statement recognizing the impact of Hurricane Laura and the California … Continue Reading

After the Waters Recede: The Mortgage Servicer’s Role in Navigating Insurance Claims, Part III

In the first part of the series “The Mortgage Servicer’s Role in Navigating Insurance Claims,” we covered assessing property damage and applying insurance proceeds in compliance with the terms of the standard mortgage agreement. In part two, we discussed protecting the mortgagee’s rights under a homeowner property policy. In this final installment, we discuss maximizing … Continue Reading

After the Waters Recede: The Mortgage Servicer’s Role in Navigating Insurance Claims, Part II

In the first part of the series “The Mortgage Servicer’s Role in Navigating Insurance Claims,” we covered assessing the damage in the wake of a natural disaster and applying the proceeds when complying with the terms of mortgage agreements to protect against liability. In part two, we will look into protecting the mortgagee’s rights under … Continue Reading

After the Waters Recede: The Mortgage Servicer’s Role in Navigating Insurance Claims, Part I

Part I: Assessing the Damage and Applying the Proceeds Following the recent hurricanes that have damaged many homes beyond repair, borrowers may seek to apply any available insurance proceeds to satisfy the outstanding balance on their loans rather than repair the property. Servicers should take certain precautions to ensure they comply with the terms of … Continue Reading

Flood Insurance: Busy Hurricane Season Ahead and COVID-19 Extension

June 1 marked the start of hurricane season, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Atlantic hurricane season will be a busy one. NOAA predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. Since June 1, … Continue Reading

FHFA Announces COVID-19 Forbearance Relief for Mortgage Servicers

In a statement released on April 21, 2020, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that mortgage servicers would only be required to advance four months of missed payments for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned loans on CARES Act forbearance plans. After that four-month period, FHFA explained the servicers would be under “no further … Continue Reading

Regulators Release Updated Examination Procedures for Acceptance of Private Flood Insurance

The final rule promulgated by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (Federal Reserve), the Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) went into effect on July 1, 2019, to implement the portion of the Biggert-Waters Flood … Continue Reading

HUD Proposed Rule Demands More Disparate and More Impact to Establish Disparate Impact Liability

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a sweeping proposed rule on August 1 seeking to amend HUD’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard. According to HUD, the proposed rule is designed to better reflect the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Texas Department of Housing and Community … Continue Reading

Private Flood Insurance Mandatory Acceptance Begins July 1, 2019

In February 2019, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Farm Credit Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the interagency regulators) issued a final rule implementing the portion of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act mandating acceptance of … Continue Reading

United States Senate to Consider Legislation Expanding Fair Housing Protection to LGBTQ Community

A bipartisan measure was introduced in the United States Senate in late April to expand fair housing protections to LGBTQ persons. The Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2019, introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), and Tim Kaine (D-VA), would expressly include “sexual orientation and gender identity” as characteristics protected by the … Continue Reading

HUD Charges Facebook with Violating the Fair Housing Act over Targeted Ads

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced charges against social media company Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 3601-3619 and 3631). The charges derive from Facebook enabling housing advertisers to target Facebook users based on protected class status: race, nationality, religion, color, familial status, sex, and disability. HUD … Continue Reading

HUD Demonstrates Continued Commitment to Aggressive Enforcement of the Fair Housing Act

Fifty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to Fair Housing, both through the support of private enforcement and through its own public enforcement. HUD recently announced that 80 non-profit organizations committed to fair housing will receive … Continue Reading

FHA Expands Program to Accelerate Financing of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Multifamily Housing Projects

The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is, in part, to bolster the economy by strengthening the housing market, protecting consumers, and working to meet the needs for quality affordable rental homes. To further this mission, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) launched a pilot program in 2012 to streamline mortgage … Continue Reading

HUD Drastically Cuts Advance Notice for REAC Inspections

You are the property manager for a HUD-subsidized apartment development. One day, the owner of the development rushes into your office, visibly frantic. The owner says, “We just received a letter from HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) that REAC inspectors have scheduled the property for an inspection.” You respond, “Don’t worry — with extensions … Continue Reading

DOJ Continues Fair Housing Act Enforcement Actions

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) recently filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee against an apartment development and its property management company alleging violations of sections 3604(a) and 3604(b) of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Specifically, the complaint challenges the management company’s policy of … Continue Reading

Federal Appeals Court Holds that Landlord May Be Liable for Deliberate Indifference to Tenant-on-Tenant Discrimination

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently addressed a matter of first impression regarding landlord liability under the Fair Housing Act (FHA): whether a landlord may be liable under the FHA for failing to address tenant-on-tenant discrimination. The court answered with a resounding “yes,” holding that the FHA creates liability where … Continue Reading

HUD and DOJ Challenge Facebook’s Advertising Platforms under the Fair Housing Act

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has filed an administrative complaint against Facebook alleging discriminatory advertising in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). HUD alleges that housing advertisers can use Facebook’s advertising tools and algorithms to exclude applicants based on protected categories such as race, sex, or national origin. Four days … Continue Reading

SEC Action Highlights Importance of Specific Language in Directors and Officers Insurance for Fintech and Other Startup Companies

The founder of Mozido, the fintech startup once claimed to be valued at $5.6 billion, has been named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The complaint names Michael Liberty (and others) individually and also names corporate entities related to Mozido as defendants. This action by the … Continue Reading

Nevada HOA Super-Priority Litigation Update: Nevada Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Lenders on Standing Issue

The Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) and their servicers scored a significant victory last week in the Nevada Supreme Court. In Nationstar Mortgage, LLC v. SFR Investments Pool 1, LLC (Case No. 69400), the court held that mortgage servicers have standing to assert, on behalf of the GSE investor, that the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) … Continue Reading
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