April 30, 2014
by Jill Rein
Pierce & Associates, P.C.
USFN Member (Illinois)
Late last summer, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, ruled in a case filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) contesting a Chicago vacant property registration ordinance. [FHFA v. City of Chicago, No. 11 C 8795, 2013 WL 4505413 (N.D. Ill, Aug. 23, 2013)].
As background: In July 2011, the Chicago City Counsel passed an ordinance that was effective November 19, 2011, requiring “mortgagees” to file a registration statement for each “vacant” building in the city of Chicago thirty days after the property became vacant or sixty days after a default on a mortgage, whichever is later. The ordinance requires “mortgagees” to register and pay a $500 registration fee in the event the owner does not register the building.
The FHFA, on its own behalf and as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, filed a lawsuit alleging the ordinance unlawfully regulates FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac in their capacity as mortgage investors and mortgagees. The court agreed with the FHFA, holding that the ordinance is preempted by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act and, alternatively, it violates FHFA’s immunity from taxation.
However, on April 3, 2014, the parties entered into an agreed order of dismissal of the case, under which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac agreed to voluntarily register vacant properties and the city agreed to waive all fees for such registration. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also agreed to waive any right to monetary damages or to recover any registration fee, fine, or penalty previously paid to the city of Chicago for vacant property registration prior to the date of the agreed order.
Editor’s Note: Within Freddie Mac’s Bulletin 2014-7 (dated April 29, 2014), the Order of Dismissal and Memorandum of Understanding between FHFA and the city of Chicago can be viewed (begins at page 3 of the PDF). Fannie Mae’s Lender Letter LL-2014-03 (dated April 30, 2014) contains a city of Chicago Vacant Property Ordinance update.
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Spring 2014 USFN Report