Flagstar Bank FSB has agreed to pay $37.5 million to settle allegations that it prevented borrowers from accessing foreclosure relief and modifying their mortgage loans, according to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The CFPB claims that Flagstar delayed borrowers’ requests for foreclosure relief, denied loan modifications, and failed to tell borrowers when their applications were incomplete.  These actions allegedly delayed borrowers’ attempts to secure permanent loan modifications to save their homes.

The enforcement action marks the first of its kind under the CFPB’s new mortgage servicing rules.  The new mortgage servicing rules require, among other things, that servicers have loss-mitigation procedures in place to lessen the likelihood that homeowners might lose their homes to foreclosure.  The applications must be evaluated by the mortgage servicer within 30 days.

According to the CFPB, the Michigan-based bank at one point took up to nine months to review one application.  The regulator claimed that Flagstar lacked the resources to handle its loss-mitigation efforts.  At one point, it had only 25 full-time staffers and an outsourced vendor in India to process 13,000 applications for foreclosure relief.  The Bureau found that in Flagstar’s loss mitigation call center, the average wait time was 25 minutes, and the average call abandonment rate was almost 50 percent.  This process caused inexcusable delays and errors and resulted in some borrowers losing the chance to save their homes, the CFPB said.

The CFPB noted that approximately 6,500 borrowers were affected by Flagstar’s alleged mortgage servicing violations.  These borrowers will be eligible for remediation from the settlement.  Additionally, affected borrowers also will be able to bring individual claims against the bank.

Under the terms of the deal, Flagstar will pay $27.5 million to the CFPB for borrower remediation and $10 million in civil penalties.

Continue to monitor the Consumer Financial Services Law Monitor for further updates on this and other matters.