7 CFR § 3550.53 - Eligibility requirements.

§ 3550.53 Eligibility requirements.

(a) Income eligibility. At the time of loan approval, the household's adjusted income must not exceed the applicable low-income limit for the area, and at closing, must not exceed the applicable moderate-income limit for the area (see § 3550.544).

(b) Citizenship status. The applicant must be a United States citizen or a noncitizen who qualifies as a legal alien as defined in § 3550.10.

(c) Primary residence. Applicants must agree to and have the ability to occupy the dwelling on a permanent basis.

(1) Because of the probability of transfer, loans will not be approved for military personnel on active duty unless the applicant will be discharged within a reasonable period of time.

(2) Because of the probability of moves after graduation, loans will not be approved for a full-time student unless the applicant intends to make the home a permanent residence and there are reasonable prospects that employment will be available in the area after graduation.

(3) If the home is being constructed or renovated an adult member of the household must be available to make inspections and authorize progress payments as the dwelling is being constructed.

(d) Eligibility of current homeowners. Current homeowners are not eligible for initial loans except as follows:

(1) Current homeowners may receive RHS loan funds to:

(i) Refinance an existing loan under the conditions outlined in § 3550.52(b);

(ii) Purchase a new dwelling if the current dwelling is deficient housing as defined in § 3550.10; or

(iii) Make necessary repairs to the property which is financed with an affordable non- RHS loan.

(2) Current homeowners with an RHS loan may receive a subsequent loan.

(e) Legal capacity. Applicants 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.

(f) Suspension or debarment. Applications from applicants who have been suspended or debarred from participation in Federal programs will be handled in accordance with 2 CFR parts 180 and 417.

(g) Repayment ability. Repayment ability means applicants must demonstrate adequate and dependably available income. The determination of income dependability will include consideration of the applicant's past history of annual income.

(1) A very low-income applicant is considered to have repayment ability when the monthly amount required for payment of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) does not exceed 29 percent of the applicant's repayment income, and the monthly amount required to pay PITI plus recurring monthly debts does not exceed 41 percent of the applicant's repayment income.

(2) A low-income applicant is considered to have repayment ability when the monthly amount required for payment of PITI does not exceed 33 percent of the applicant's repayment income, and the monthly amount required to pay PITI plus recurring monthly debts does not exceed 41 percent of repayment income.

(3) Repayment ratios may exceed the percentages specified in paragraphs (g)(1) and (g)(2) of this section if the applicant has demonstrated an ability to meet higher debt obligations, or if RHS determines, based on other compensating factors, that the household has a higher repayment ability.

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

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

(h) Credit qualifications. Applicants must be unable to secure the necessary credit from other sources on terms and conditions that the applicant could reasonably be expected to fulfill. 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) A foreclosure which 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 in paragraph (i)(2) of this section.

(vi) Two or more rent payments paid 30 or more days late within the last 2 years. If the applicant has experienced no other credit problems in the past 2 years, only 1 year of rent history will be evaluated. Rent payment history requirements may be waived if the RHS loan will reduce shelter costs significantly and contribute to an improved repayment ability.

(vii) 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.

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

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

(x) 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 meeting obligations when due for the 12 months prior to the date of application.

(ii) A 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.

(i) Homeownership education. Applicants who are first-time homebuyers must agree to provide documentation, in the form of a completion certificate or letter from the provider, that a homeownership education course from a certified provider under § 3550.11 has been successfully completed as defined by the provider prior to loan closing. Requests for exceptions to the homeowner education requirement will be reviewed and granted on an individual case-by-case basis. The State Director may grant an exception the homeownership education requirement for individuals in geographic areas within the State where the State Director verifies that certified homeownership education is not reasonably available in the local area in any of the formats listed in § 3550.11(b). Whether such homeownership education is reasonably available will be determined based on factors including, but not limited to: Distance, travel time, geographic obstacles, and cost. On a case-by-case basis, the State Director also may grant an exception, provided the applicant borrower documents a special need, such as a disability, that would unduly impede completing a homeownership course in a reasonably available format.

[61 FR 59779, Nov. 22, 1996, as amended at 67 FR 78330, Dec. 24, 2002; 72 FR 5157, Feb. 5, 2007; 84 FR 29038, June 21, 2019]