The Truth in Lending Act and Rescission: Lessons Learned by Lenders from Jesinoski v. Countrywide
The Supreme Court just made mortgage rescission a little bit easier for borrowers and scarier for lenders in Jesinoski v. Countrywide Home Loans. Under the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. §1601-1677 (“TILA”), mortgage lenders are required to disclose the rights of obligors and other material disclosures to borrowers. Borrowers have a right of rescission for three days from the transaction or until the disclosures are made, up to three years after the transaction. The borrower must give notice to the lender of his or her exercise of the right to rescind within those time periods.
In Jesinoski, Countrywide failed to make the necessary disclosures to the Jesinoskis as lenders. Three years to the day after the completion of the mortgage transaction, the Jesinoskis sent written notice of their intent to rescind the mortgage to Countrywide. A year and a day later, they filed suit. The question before the Supreme Court then became whether written notice was sufficient under the Truth in Lending Act as the Third and Fourth Circuits held (and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau agreed), or whether the borrower must also file suit, as the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Circuits held. The Court decided that the language of the statute makes clear that written notice alone is sufficient to fulfill the terms of the statute. The Court rejected Countrywide’s argument that there was a legitimate dispute over the adequacy of the disclosures that required the borrower to file suit to settle.
This case should give all lenders pause when making disclosures – all material disclosures should be (a) as thorough as necessary under TILA, and (b) timely enough to keep the rescission window to three days. The borrower’s right to rescind will expire at the three day mark if the mortgage lender makes all necessary disclosures at the closing table, but make sure the disclosures are complete and meet all TILA requirements. Inadequate disclosure could leave the borrower up to three years to rescind the loan, a lesson lenders just learned from the Supreme Court.