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Amendments to the Affordable Housing Programme are proposed by MFA.
The Federal Finance Agency for Residential Affairs (FHFA) published a proposal on 6 March to amend the Affordable Housing Program (AHP) of the FHL banks. According to the Federal Law on the Home Loan Bank, the FHL banks are obliged to set up an AHP which supports low-income customers when buying a house, long-term, low-income and low-income rented flats and when buying, building or renovating qualified rented accommodation.
The FHFA states that the changes suggested should help FHL banks better match their AHP resources to the affordability of their districts' residential needs. Some of the changes suggested would include (i) giving ULB banks extra powers to assign their AHP resources; (ii) empowering ULB banks to set up'special competition funds' for particular needs in the region; (iii) allowing ULB banks to develop their own individual projects screening yardsticks; and (iv) coordinating the supervision of AHP projects with other federal financing programmes.
Observations on the proposal are due 60 working days following the date of entry in the Federal Register.
Bundesanstalt für Wohnungswesen publishes the final regulation on membership of Bundesheimkreditbank.
The Federal Institution for Housing ("FHFA") adopted a definitive regulation on 12 January 2016 which places new demands on memberships of the Bundesheimkreditbanken ("FHLBanks"). Affiliation is regulated by the Federal Act on the Housing Loan Bank (the "Act"), which provides, inter alia, that insurers are entitled to premiums. Under the new rules enacted under this Act, new conditions are created for members to become and remain members of an FHL Bank.
In particular, the definitive rules exclude caps tive insurers from becoming members. The FHFA initially suggested in its 2014 proposal that the FHFA exclude capstive insurers from the application of the legal definitions of "insurance company". Capital insurers are insurers formed by a parent specifically to provide coverage for exposures of the parent; they do not provide coverage to unaffiliated third party.
Although 400 commentaries were received on this issue of the FHFA standard, almost all of which were against the standard proposals, the standard proposals in the FHFA's definitive standard remain substantially as they were. According to this provision, FHLBanks may not admit as new members capping insurers. In the case of reinsurance captives that have become members since the 2014 regulation was put forward, they must terminate their memberships within one year and no further advance payments may be made.
Capital assurance firms which were members of an FHL bank before the publication of the suggested rules may stay members of their present FHL banks for five years, but the amount of advance they may obtain is limited and FHL banks may not make new advance payments or extend outstanding advance payments with a due date beyond the five-year limit.
Expulsion of reinsurance captives by the rules is susceptible to legal action. In particular, it is not clear whether the Financial Action Task Force is authorised to exempt captive insurers from the scope of the Act. The Congress pointed out that "any" insurer should be entitled to join, which could supersede the choice of an insurer by the Financial Action Task Force, especially when the traditional choice of states to define an "insurance company" was the one.
Similarly, it is not clear whether the FMHFA can include further legal requirements (in which case an insurer must primarily insure unaffiliated individuals or entities) which are not taken into account by Congress. Moreover, the assessment of the alleged grounds for exclusion of captive insurers who pass on advance payments to their parent who is not entitled to FHLBank membership is not analysed thoroughly.
The FHFA does not seem to rely on examining whether captive insurers are actually used as lines for non-eligible undertakings, but primarily on sector papers which encourage undertakings to create caps in order to do so. Furthermore, it is not clear whether the FHFA offer would resolve any alleged problems, since other firms which under the new FHFA rules continue to be able to benefit from the aid may also transfer advance payments to their non-eligible parents.
In its 2014 application, the Financial Action Task Force (FHFA) also suggested that the members of the FHA Bank be required to comply with current minimal conditions in order to obtain FHA Bank memberships. Specifically, the Commission suggested that the banks should have maintained a certain proportion of their mortgages. Finally, the FMO has deleted these obligations from the definitive regulation and concluded that the burden of introducing such a standard would be outweighed by the benefit.
This new ordinance shall enter into force 30 working days following its entry into force in the Federal Register. It has been vehemently rejected by those in the sector who see it as detrimental to the solvency of the property markets and who are likely to initiate further discussions and probably legal action.