April 16, 2009 / 10:58 PM / 9 years ago

House panel sets April 23 mortgage bill hearing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee said on Thursday it will hold a hearing on April 23 on a bill to overhaul mortgage industry practices and curb predatory lending.

The bill was introduced last month and is aimed at preventing “another subprime mortgage meltdown,” the committee said in a statement.

An earlier version of the bill passed the full House in 2007, but died in the Senate.

The latest bill would clean up mortgage lending by making lenders more accountable, barring abusive “steering” of borrowers into higher-cost loans, and exposing lenders to more legal liability for misbehavior.

Two new standards would be set under the bill. One would force lenders, assignees and securitizers to consider a borrower’s “reasonable ability to repay;” another would require that borrowers in a refinancing get a “net tangible benefit.”

Financiers that securitize mortgage debt would also be exposed to greater liability, although the bill would bar class action lawsuits and otherwise limit borrowers’ legal options.

Borrowers facing foreclosure would have more rights to protect themselves, as would rental tenants in properties going into foreclosure.

In addition, under the bill, regulators would have to draw up rules requiring lenders to retain at least 5 percent of the credit risk in unconventional mortgages to be securitized.

Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Leslie Adler

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