On Friday, October 20, 2017, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the body that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced that it will amend its Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA) to add a preferred language question so that limited English proficient (LEP) borrowers can inform the lender at the outset the language in which they should be served. As a leader in the mortgage industry, FHFA’s change to the URLA, the first in over 20 years, will likely be adopted industry-wide.
“This is the first step in ensuring that all Americans, including those with limited English skills, will be on an equal footing and able to obtain homeownership” said MFJ senior staff attorney Linda Jun who also co-chaired the Americans for Financial Reform’s LEP subcommittee, a committee that compelled FHFA to take this important step. Through reports on LEP mortgage lending issues, meetings with FHFA and robust comments to the agency, Jun lead the charge in pushing for this reform and many others that MFJ hopes FHFA will consider. “For too long, LEP homeowners have been at the mercy of others with better English language skills, many of whom were unscrupulous and lied about the type of loans and the documents these homeowners were signing” Jun said. Jun and MFJ look forward in working further with FHFA to ensure that some of the other proposals of the grassroots group are also adopted.