The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced an agreement with Bank of America to settle a claim that the mortgage lender refused to provide financing to a lesbian couple.
According to HUD, the agreement is the first enforcement action taken against a lender involving the department's recent rule that prohibits lenders from basing eligibility determinations for mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.
HUD claimed the bank denied a loan to a Florida couple seeking to obtain an FHA-insured mortgage because of their sexual orientation and marital status. The couple's mortgage application was denied as the lender did not consider the applicants directly related because they were not married; same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Florida.Â
Under the terms of the agreement, the bank will pay HUD $7,500 and notify its residential mortgage loan originators, processors and underwriters of its settlement agreement. The lender will also update its fair lending training program to include information on HUD's rule.
‘This agreement demonstrates that HUD will vigorously enforce its equal access rule and pursue lenders that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status,’ says Helen Kanovsky, HUD's general counsel, who adds the bank nonetheless ‘should be commended for stepping up and taking immediate corrective action after HUD notified [it] of the violation.’