Q: Is it permissible to ask an applicant about their number of dependents as part of the credit decision process on real estate related loans?
A: It is not permissible to ask a real estate loan applicant about the number of dependents, unless this information is needed to determine if the borrower qualifies for the first-time home-buyer program. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in a credit decision based on familial status. 24 CFR § 100.5. Familial status is defined as one or more individuals (who have not attained the age of 18 years) being domiciled with (a) a parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals; or (b) the designee of such parent or other person having such custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person. 24 CFR § 100.20.
This Q&A was obtained from NCUA’s website, in a document entitled “NCUA Fair Lending Examination and Compliance Program for Federal Credit Unions,” which may be found here: