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Can your pregnancy affect your ability to get an FHA mortgage?

by Peter G. Miller
June 10th, 2011

Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is now involved in several situations where it claims that pregnant borrowers were denied housing under the Fair Housing Act. This is important because such decisions can impact individuals who are now or might become pregnant, as well as their families and household members.

The Fair Housing Act and pregnancy

In basic terms, the Fair Housing Act says that individuals may not be denied a home, rental or mortgage because of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status

or handicap. Additional laws at the federal and state level can protect against discrimination on the basis of other factors such as age and sexual orientation.

Within the meaning of familial status, says John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, “pregnancy is not a basis to deny or delay a loan. It’s just that simple. Mortgage professionals may verify income and other resources and have eligibility standards but they may not single out women on maternity leave to deny or delay loans that they are otherwise eligible for.”

The policy would also apply to men who are on parental leave due to the birth or adoption of a child, says HUD.

History

It’s amazing how often the matter of bias arises with real estate and mortgage lending, something which seems odd given that this is 2011 and we have had at least 50 years of visible, well-televised civil rights discourse.

In fact, civil rights has been a reality for more than 140 years.

We usually think of civil rights as beginning with the 14th Amendment, a constitutional change adopted in 1868. It said in part that no state could “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

But, actually, there is earlier legislation: The Civil Rights Act of 1866. This law was designed to “protect all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and furnish the means of their vindication.”

After all this time it should be easy to realize that a mortgage application can only be judged on the basis of financial standing. That a person is pregnant or not pregnant is not anyone’s business, least of all a loan officer’s business.

Every year HUD posts news releases which contain allegations of discrimination. It’s surely time to move on, to accept everyone and to be inclusive.

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