On March 22, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published an interim final rule to implement provisions of the Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Communities (HELP) Act, which was enacted by Congress in December of 2015. Specifically, the interim final rule “broadens the availability of certain special provisions for small creditors that operate in rural and underserved markets.” Prior to the HELP Act, small creditors were eligible for certain special provisions under the Ability to Repay (ATR) and Qualified Mortgage (QM) rules only when the small creditor was operating predominantly in rural or underserved markets, which meant that the small creditor made at least 50% of its covered mortgage loans on properties located in rural or underserved areas. With the enactment of the HELP Act, as well as this interim final rule, a small creditor may be eligible for the special provisions under the ATR and QM rules as long as the small creditor originated at least one covered mortgage on a property located in a rural or underserved area. The CFPB will be accepting comments for 30 days after the interim final rule is published in the Federal Register. 

The interim final rule can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201603_cfpb_operations-in-rural-areas-under-the-truth-in-lending-act-regulation-z-interim-final.pdf