OTS Finds Local Lending Law Preempted for Federal Savings Associations

March 8, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) has issued a legal opinion today concluding that federal law preempts the application to federal savings associations of recent amendments to the Code of Montgomery County, Maryland.

OTS Chief Counsel John Bowman indicated that the agency was issuing the opinion in response to a request from numerous institutions that make mortgage loans in Montgomery County. The county law, scheduled to become effective tomorrow, would infringe on the mortgage lending activities of federal savings associations in contravention of federal law, and could significantly impact the ongoing lending operations of institutions and lending opportunities of residents in the county.

OTS concluded that, to the extent the county ordinance purports to prohibit federal savings associations and their operating subsidiaries from making mortgage loans in Montgomery County that include certain lending terms outlined in the law, federal law preempts the local ordinance. The opinion notes that OTS has previously opined on a number of occasions that laws such as the Montgomery County ordinance are preempted for federal savings associations and their operating subsidiaries.

With regard to provisions of the county ordinance designed to address discriminatory lending activities, the agency’s opinion concludes that only OTS has the authority to enforce such laws against a federal savings association and its operating subsidiaries. OTS will work with Montgomery County to address any consumer complaints received by the County alleging discriminatory lending activities by a federal savings association or operating subsidiary.

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