Fair Housing Law Could Backfire

A law intended to clarify non-discriminatory requirements for lenders -- and upping violation fines dramatically -- could actually scare banks away from doing any business in Montgomery County, Maryland.
March 1, 2006, 11am PST | David Gest
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"National mortgage lenders are pulling out of Montgomery County, one of the most expensive places in the state to buy a home, because the companies don't want to operate under a new local fair-housing law that industry leaders are calling 'a tort lawyer's dream.'"

"The law, which goes into effect March 8, adds examples to the definition of discriminatory lending and raises maximum damages a hundredfold - to $500,000 from $5,000.

Supporters of the ordinance say those who extend credit fairly, regardless of race, gender or similar characteristics, don't have anything to worry about. But Tom Shaner, executive director of the state brokers association, said he knows of five companies that have decided to stop lending in the county because they believe the law is so 'vague' that they can't be sure what it would take to comply. More are considering whether to follow suit, he said."

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Published on Thursday, February 23, 2006 in The Baltimore Sun
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