In a recent press release, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it will soon require housing counselors participating in HUD-approved programs to be certified in order to continue offering their services to consumers.
In response to the housing crisis several years ago, Congress directed HUD to develop a standardized certification program for housing counseling in order to “increase the competency of counselors in the full range of housing issues confronting consumers.” This range of issues includes protecting consumers from scams imposed by fraudulent operators that prey on those considered most vulnerable.
HUD’s new certification mandates will require counselors to pass a standardized written exam and work for a HUD-approved counseling agency. According to HUD’s press release, counselors must demonstrate competency in each of the following areas of housing counseling: financial management; property maintenance; responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy; fair housing laws and requirements; housing affordability; and avoidance of, and responses to, rental and mortgage delinquency and avoidance of eviction and mortgage default.
The final rule will take effect three years following the release of the certification examination, which has been targeted for the spring of 2017. Once HUD’s rule is fully implemented, housing counseling required by HUD—or provided in connection with any HUD program—will meet common standards, and will be delivered by a HUD-certified counselor working for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency.
The federal regulator will manage an online database of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies and certified counselors that both consumers and partners can utilize. This will allow consumers to quickly find a “trusted, impartial, and knowledgeable advisor who is required to put the consumer’s best interests first.”
To help counselors prepare for the new standardized written exam, HUD is offering training and study resources in both English and Spanish to its counseling stakeholders – which includes a practice test.
For more information, including frequently asked questions and the list of HUD Programs covered under this new certification requirement, check out the following webpage.
To see the final rule in its entirety, click here.