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Mortgage lenders discriminate against mothers on maternity leave

 

Last updated 1/14/2019 at 2:18pm



Fair Housing Center of the Legal Aid Society Of San Diego Inc.

The federal Fair Housing Act protects tenants and homebuyers from housing discrimination based on several protected classes. The protected classes are race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability.

Since 2010, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has consistently received complaints submitted by women who were denied or delayed a home loan because they were on maternity leave. See http://www.hud.gov/topics/fair_lending for details. The lending industry continues to discriminate against women on maternity leave when considering their income for the purposes of obtaining a home loan. This form of discrimination can be brought under two protected classes: sex and familial status. Familial status not only includes households with minor children, but also pregnancy. It could also be intentional or disparate impact theories of discrimination.

It is also important to note that mothers may not be the only ones affected by the lenders’ discrimination. The same policy of not approving loans with applicants on maternity leave could also apply to any parent on parental leave.

In one example, a complainant applied for a mortgage with Primary Residential Mortgage Inc. Complainant was on extended maternity leave because of complications during childbirth. Complainant had three temporary disability policies and provided the documentation to the bank. The bank said that she was a “good risk” and would approve her loan application once she returned to work. The bank maintained that complainant did not provide enough documentation showing verifiable income. The complaint was settled, and the complainant received $13,000 and injunctive relief requiring the loan officers to attend fair housing training and to adopt a new policy regarding loan applications with people on parental leave. See thefull conciliation agreement at http://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/13conciliationagree.pdf.

In another example, the complainant was denied a home loan from Cadence Lending/Waterstone Mortgage while she was on maternity leave. Complainant, along with her real estate agent, were told the complainant’s loan would not be approved until she returned to work because “mothers don’t go back to work.” The complaint was settled, requiring Cadence Lending to pay $15,000 to the complainant, $5,000 to her attorney, $2,625 to her real estate agent, $875 to the agent’s attorney and $3,500 to the homeowner. See the article “Waterstone Mortgage agrees to pay $27,000 to settle maternity leave discrimination claims over Round Rock home,” in a HUD press release that is available at https://archives.hud.gov/local/tx/news/pr2012-08-01.cfm.

For more information, call The Legal Aid Society of San Diego Inc. at (844) 449-3500, TTY (877) 734-2929 or visit http://www.lassd.org.

Submitted by The Legal Aid Society of San Diego Inc.

 

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