Signing Certified Mail Receipt Satisfies Requirement to Acknowledge Receipt of Borrower’s Request for Information

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has held, in a matter of first impression, that signing a borrower’s certified-mail return receipt can serve as a loan servicer’s acknowledgment of receipt of a borrower’s written request for information. Meeks v. Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, No. 16-15536, 2017 WL 782285, at *1 (11th Cir. Mar. 1, 2017).

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq. (“RESPA”), and it’s implementing Regulation X, 12 C.F.R. § 1024.36(c), require that a loan servicer must timely provide written acknowledgement of receipt of a borrower’s request for information under RESPA. The borrower sent a written request for information by certified mail, and later asserted that the loan servicer, Ocwen had failed to provide the required written acknowledgement of receipt.

The 11th Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, disagreed. The Court noted that Regulation X, as well as the staff commentary on the regulation, provided no detail regarding what was required as an “acknowledgement” of receipt. Even other implementing regulations, such as Regulation Z, 12 C.F.R. § 1026.13(c), that require written acknowledgement of receipt do not provide details about what constitutes adequate written acknowledgement. The Court found no authority for the proposition that the signed, certified-mail return receipt could not serve as a written acknowledgement of receipt. Where such authority was lacking, the 11th Circuit panel determined that the signed receipt was sufficient. Accordingly, the borrower could not demonstrate a concrete injury-in-fact and lacked proper standing under Article III to seek statutory damages.

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