HUD's Equal Access Rule: A New Chapter in Fair Lending Compliance

Banking & Financial Services Policy Report
6 minute read | May.01.2014

For 45 years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been charged with administering the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) prohibitions on housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. In 1988, the Fair Housing Amendments Act modified the FHA to (1) prohibit discrimination based on disability or familial status, and (2) expand HUD's role from investigator and conciliator to mandatory enforcer.

The FHA does not expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but on February 3, 2012, HUD addressed Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) housing discrimination by issuing the Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Rule (the Equal Access Rule). The Equal Access Rule applies to housing assisted or insured by HUD, thereby impacting FHA-approved lenders and others participating in HUD programs. It became effective on March 5, 2012.

This article discusses the impetus for the Equal Access Rule, its requirements, and HUD's recent activities targeting LGBT-related housing discrimination. It concludes with suggestions for lender compliance with the Equal Access Rule.

Originally published in the Banking & Financial Services Policy Report; reprinted with permission.