HUD Charges FiFth Third Bank & Mortgage Companies with Disability Discrimmination
When Fifth Third Bank, Fifth Third Mortgage Company, and Cranbrook Mortgage Corporation required a couple on disability to prove, via physician’s letter, that they could be expected to continue to receive the disability payments that enabled them to pay their mortgage, the lenders say they were simply doing due diligence on a refinancing application. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says that they may actually have been engaged in discrimination against persons with disabilities and in violation of the Fair Housing Act, however, because they required the couple to provide more and different evidence of their ability to pay than they would have had to had they not been disabled. The couple ultimately did not provide a physician’s letter and were denied the refi. HUD believes that the lenders were unjustified in denying the refinancing application because at the time of the couple’s loan application Fifth Third’s underwriting policy “explicitly specified a physician’s statement as appropriate evidence for establishing continuance of disability income.” This, HUD argues, goes beyond the requirements placed on other applicants for verifying an applicant’s income amount and source.Fifth Third declined to comment on the charges. HUD’s acting assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, Bryan Greene, said regarding the lawsuit that “persons with disabilities should not have to meet higher mortgage qualification standards because they rely on disability insurance payments as a source of income”. Do you think Fifth Third should be facing a lawsuit? How should disability income be verified fairly?