Limited English Proficiency (LEP) refers to a person’s limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits housing providers from using LEP selectively based on a protected class or as a pretext for discrimination because of a protected class. The Act also prohibits housing providers from using LEP in a way that causes an unjustified discriminatory effect. Improper handling of transactions with LEP customers can lead to FHA violations on mortgage loans, Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) violations on any type of loan and to Unfair, Deceptive or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAP) concerns on any type of account. HUD released guidance on September 15, 2016 entitled, “Fair Housing Protections for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,” to advise housing providers of these prohibitions.
The Limited English Proficiency Policy Update communicates the Board’s intent to comply with the HUD guidance and to prohibit discrimination associated with the correlation between LEP and race and national origin. Policy Updates are designed to simplify the task of updating existing policies, regardless of where the existing requirement is lodged. Policy Updates include a summary of the requirement and address procedures, training and testing.