On September 15, 2016 the Department of Housing and Urban Development published guidance on Fair Housing Act Protections for Persons With Limited English Proficiency. The guidance applies to your role as a mortgage lender, and your role as a landlord, if applicable.
Limited English Proficiency (LEP) refers to a person’s limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English. Questionable practices include refusing to allow an LEP borrower to have mortgage documents translated, or refusing to provide the borrower with translated documents that the lender or mortgage broker has readily available. Likewise, restricting a borrower’s use of an interpreter, or requiring that an English speaker cosign a mortgage, likely will not prove justifiable. Some states require that if negotiations for a mortgage are conducted in a non-English language, certain mortgage documents must also be provided in that language.
The LEP issue has not stirred up many problems for mortgage lenders to this point in time. What happens next depends on the reaction of the CFPB and the prudential regulatory agencies. This could be the next big thing.
The guidance is available at https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=lepmemo091516.pdf.