U.S. Bank, Appraiser and Officer Fined Over Discrimination Against American Couple
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has ordered the U.S. Bank National Association, U.S. Bank subsidiary Red Sky Risk Services, LLC (formerly known as USB Lending Support Services, LLC), and one of U.S. Bank’s loan officers, to pay a fine over allegations that they refused to refinance the mortgage of a Native American couple in Belcourt, North Dakota, because their property is located on a reservation.
The fine was contained in a settlement agreement between the HUD and the U.S. Bank to resolve the issue.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits lenders from discriminating in making mortgages available or in the terms or conditions of a mortgage transaction based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability.
“A person’s race and national origin have no effect on their credit worthiness,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work to give all families an equal opportunity at homeownership by ensuring that lenders meet their obligation to comply with the Fair Housing Act.”
The agreement settles a complaint that was filed by a Native American couple alleging that U.S. Bank, the bank’s appraiser Red Sky Risk Services, and one of the bank’s loan officers discriminated against the couple when they attempted to refinance their home loan. In denying the couple’s loan application, U.S. Bank allegedly determined that the “value or type of collateral was not sufficient.” The loan officer allegedly told the couple that, because their property is located on a Native American reservation, U.S. Bank was not able to make the loan and that Red Sky Risk Services was not able to appraise the property.
The property, located within the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, is held in “fee simple,” which means that the couple holds the title to the property, without restriction, in the same way that land is generally held throughout the United States.
Under the terms of the agreement, U.S. Bank agreed to pay the couple’s U.S. Bank credit card balance in the amount of $11,489.56, and to approve their application for a home mortgage refinance loan at the same interest rate and under other terms and conditions for which they originally applied. U.S. Bank and Red Sky Risk Services also agreed to amend their policies regarding home mortgage loans on land located within the boundaries of a Native American reservation to be consistent with the Fair Housing Act and to provide fair housing training for their employees.
The HUD takes discrimination charges seriously.
Previously, the HUD fined landlords from two Berlin, New Hampshire properties for violating the Fair Housing Act when they refused to rent to a woman who was a victim of domestic violence.
“No woman should be denied housing based on her status as a domestic violence survivor,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD remains committed to ensuring and promoting fair housing opportunities for women and men alike.”
The agreement is the result of two complaints filed by a woman with HUD in December 2013. In the first complaint, the woman alleged that TKB Properties and the New England Family Housing Management Organization refused to renew her lease because of police visits responding to her domestic violence-related 911 calls. The second complaint arose when the woman was searching for another home after her lease was not renewed, alleging that landlord Michael Warren refused to rent her an apartment based on the previous domestic violence-related police visits.
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