Over the past couple of months, HUD has announced two Fair Housing Act (FHA) settlements involving pregnancy and maternity leave that deserve mention in this space. The cases involved similar fact patterns in which mortgage loans were denied or delayed to women because they were on maternity leave. In the first case, a lender agreed to pay $48,000 after a married couple filed a HUD complaint alleging that the lender denied a refinancing application because the wife was on maternity leave. The investigation revealed that the bank had done that same thing to four other applicants who were also on maternity leave. In the second case, in which the defendant agreed to pay $25,000 to resolve the allegations, the lender asserted its mortgage insurance guidelines required the woman to have returned to work so as to count her income. Nevertheless, the lender agreed to settle the case.
As a part of the settlements, both institutions further agreed to training and developing a policy to address borrowers on maternity leave or who are pregnant.
What do these cases mean for professional apartment management as we look to fill our units? Ensure the proper screen is completed when running the credit check. Make sure you do not unintentionally discriminate because a woman is pregnant or is on maternity leave such that there may be an issue with income qualification. Indeed, part of this may be adopting a policy concerning calculating income when an applicant is pregnant, is on maternity leave, and/or paternity leave.
Just A Thought.