The Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) is a federal law. The goal of HOEPA is to stop abusive practices in refinances and closed-end home equity loans that have higher interest rates or high fees.
If you decide to take out a "high-cost mortgage," meaning the interest rate or fees exceed specific amounts, HOEPA provides you with protection against abusive lending practices. This law restricts loan terms and features.
It also provides enhanced remedies for violations in a private civil action.
HOEPA was enacted in 1994 as an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).
Under HOEPA as originally passed, if a refinance or home equity mortgage loan met any of HOEPA's high-cost coverage tests, the lender was required to provide special disclosures to borrowers and was subject to various restrictions on the loan terms.
In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the Dodd-Frank Act). This law amended TILA by expanding the coverage of HOEPA to include purchase-money mortgages (the mortgage you used to buy your home) and open-end credit plans, like HELOCs.
Additionally, the Dodd-Frank Act gave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) the authority to adopt new rules to implement the new changes to HOEPA.
Again, HOEPA provides certain protections for borrowers if they take out a high-cost mortgage. (12 C.F.R. § 1026.32). A loan is considered "high-cost" if the borrower's principal dwelling secures the loan and one of the following is true:
You can determine if a transaction is a high-cost mortgage based on its APR.
A loan is considered a high-cost mortgage if its APR as of the date the interest rate is set exceeds the Average Prime Offer Rate (an annual percentage rate that is derived from average interest rates, points, and other loan pricing terms) for a comparable transaction on that date by more than:
A mortgage is also considered to be a high-cost mortgage if its points and fees exceed:
A transaction is a high-cost mortgage if there is a prepayment penalty:
If the loan is indeed a high-cost mortgage, a prepayment penalty isn't allowed.
If the lender offers you a high-cost mortgage, it:
These protections don't apply if:
Before providing a high-cost mortgage, a lender must ensure that the borrower receives counseling on the advisability of such a mortgage from a HUD-approved counselor or a state housing finance authority. (12 C.F.R. § 1026.34).
If your lender violated HOEPA, you might be entitled to monetary damages. For example, TILA's remedies in a civil action for a HOEPA violation can include a refund of the finance charges and fees paid, statutory damages, court costs, and attorneys' fees. To get more information about HOEPA or high-cost home loans, talk to a real estate attorney.
Also, be aware that additional steps are often required in the foreclosure of a high-cost home loan. To find out if your state has any laws that affect the foreclosure of a high-cost home loan, talk to a foreclosure lawyer.