Check Your Mortgage Application Rights

by : Peter Kenny

Consumers looking to buy homes should know that they have certain rights under the law. The more commonly known laws are The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), the Fair Housing Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). These federal laws prohibit discrimination and provide consumers with the right to obtain certain credit information.

Under the broad banner of no discrimination, ECOA prohibits mortgage lenders from discriminating against applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age. In addition they may not discriminate people solely on the fact that all or part of the applicant's income comes from any public assistance program, or the fact that the applicant has exercised any right under any federal consumer credit protection law.

In order to assist government agencies to monitor ECOA compliance, lenders and mortgage brokers must request certain information regarding your race, sex, marital status and age when taking your loan application.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination during residential type real estate transactions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, family status, or nationality. This applies to both the sale of a home and the decision by a lender to give you a loan.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against by a lender or someone else in the home-purchasing process, you may file a private legal action against that person or complain to a state, local or federal administrative agency. You can locate these agencies either online or in most phone books.

Lenders or mortgage brokers must act on your application and tell you what they decide within 30 days after they receive your completed application. Your application will not be considered completed, and the 30-day period will not begin, until you have given your lender all of the materials and information that was requested.

In the event that you are denied the loan, the law requires the lender to give you a written statement of the specific reasons you were denied. This statement must also tell you the federal agency to contact if you believe you were treated unfairly.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires lenders that have denied your loan to tell you if the decision was based on information that was contained within your credit report.

If the credit report information was a reason denying the loan, the lender's notice must tell you where you can get a free copy of the credit report. Consumers have the legal right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information that is contained in their credit report. Once you make a complaint, the credit reporting agency that prepared the report must investigate your complaint, free of charge, and then they must notify you of the results of the investigation.

Knowing your rights is one way to protect yourself while looking for a home loan. You can learn much more about your rights either online or through your local protection agencies. You should always keep copies of all documents that are sent to you from lenders as well as copies of documents that you sent to them.