7 CFR § 3550.103 - Eligibility requirements.

§ 3550.103 Eligibility requirements.

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following requirements:

(a) Owner-occupant. Applicants must own, as described in § 3550.107, and occupy the dwelling.

(b) Age (grant only). To be eligible for grant assistance, an applicant must be 62 years of age or older at the time of application.

(c) Income eligibility. At the time of loan or grant approval, the household's adjusted income must not exceed the applicable very low-income limit. Section 3550.54 provides a detailed discussion of the calculation of adjusted income.

(d) Citizenship status. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or a non-citizen who qualifies as a legal alien, as defined in § 3550.10.

(e) Need and use of personal resources. Applicants must be unable to obtain financial assistance at reasonable terms and conditions from non-RHS credit or grant sources and lack the personal resources to meet their needs. Elderly families must use any net family assets in excess of $20,000 to reduce their section 504 request. Non-elderly families must use any net family assets in excess of $15,000 to reduce their section 504 request. Applicants may contribute assets in excess of the aforementioned amounts to further reduce their request for assistance. The definition of assets for the purpose of this paragraph (e) is net family assets as described in § 3550.54, less the value of the dwelling and a minimum adequate site.

(f) Legal capacity. The applicant must have the legal capacity to incur the loan obligation or have a court appointed guardian or conservator who is empowered to obligate the applicant in real estate matters.

(g) Suspension or debarment. Applications from applicants who have been suspended or debarred from participation in federal programs will be handled in accordance with RD Instruction 1940-M (available in any Rural Development office).

(h) Repayment ability (loans only). Applicants must demonstrate adequate repayment ability as supported by a budget.

(1) If an applicant does not meet the repayment ability requirements, the applicant can have another party join the application as a cosigner.

(2) If an applicant does not meet the repayment ability requirements, the applicant can have other household members join the application.

(i) Credit qualifications. Applicants must be unable to secure the necessary credit from other sources under terms and conditions that the applicant could reasonably be expected to fulfill. Loan applicants must have a credit history that indicates reasonable ability and willingness to meet debt obligations. An applicant with an outstanding judgment obtained by the United States in a federal court, other than the United States Tax Court, is not eligible for a loan or grant from RHS.

(1) Indicators of unacceptable credit include:

(i) Payments on any account where the amount of the delinquency exceeded one installment for more than 30 days within the last 12 months.

(ii) Payments on any account which was delinquent for more than 30 days on two or more occasions within a 12-month period.

(iii) Loss of security due to a foreclosure if the foreclosure has been completed within the last 36 months.

(iv) An outstanding Internal Revenue Service tax lien or any other outstanding tax liens with no satisfactory arrangement for payment.

(v) A court-created or court-affirmed obligation or judgment caused by nonpayment that is currently outstanding or has been outstanding within the last 12 months, except for those excluded by paragraphs (i)(2)(i) and (i)(2)(ii) of this section.

(vi) Outstanding collection accounts with a record of irregular payment with no satisfactory arrangements for repayment, or collection accounts that were paid in full within the last 6 months.

(vii) Non-agency debts written off within the last 36 months or paid in full at least 12 months ago.

(viii) Agency debts that were debt settled within the last 36 months or are being considered for debt settlement.

(ix) Delinquency on a federal debt.

(2) The following will not be considered indicators of unacceptable credit:

(i) A bankruptcy in which debts were discharged more than 36 months prior to the date of application or where an applicant successfully completed a bankruptcy debt restructuring plan and has demonstrated a willingness to meet obligations when due for the 12 months prior to the date of application.

(ii) A non-foreclosure judgment satisfied more than 12 months before the date of application.

(3) When an application is rejected because of unacceptable credit, the applicant will be informed of the reason and source of information.

[61 FR 59779, Nov. 22, 1996, as amended at 67 FR 78331, Dec. 24, 2002; 73 FR 49593, Aug. 22, 2008; 80 FR 9911, Feb. 24, 2015; 87 FR 6772, Feb. 7, 2022]