Housing Counseling: Certification Requirements Final Rule

The Housing Counseling Certification Requirements Final Rule implements statutory requirements that housing counseling required under or provided in connection with all HUD programs must be provided by HUD Certified Housing Counselors by August 1, 2020.


How Do I Become a HUD Certified Housing Counselor?

  1. Step 1 The counselor prepares for the exam:
    Takes trainings by HUD's training partners.
    Browses HUD OHC certification webinars.
    Takes practice exams and trainings on HUDHousingCounselors.com.
  2. Step 2 The counselor registers for the exam and pays the fee on HUDHousingCounselors.com.
  3. Step 3 The counselor passes the exam and transfers results to FHA Connection.
  4. Step 4 The counselor applies through FHA Connection for certification.
    The agency identifies the FHAC Application Coordinator and verifies counselor employment.

Key Resources for HUD Certified Housing Counselors


Click on the headings in the gray boxes below to expand the information beneath them.

HUD published the Final Rule for Housing Counseling Certification in the Federal Register on December 14, 2016. This rule implements statutory requirements that housing counseling required under or provided in connection with all HUD programs will be provided by HUD Certified Housing Counselors. With these certification requirements, the benefits to the renter, the prospective homebuyer, or the existing homeowner are increased assurance of a more knowledgeable housing counselor providing more effective housing counseling services. HUD expects that more knowledgeable housing counselors will lead to better identification of housing issues, more knowledgeable referrals and resolution of barriers, and a greater ability to avoid scams.

The rule provides guidance for agencies who are required to have housing counseling certified staff as well as regulations prohibiting the distribution of HUD Housing Counseling Program grant funds to agencies convicted of election law violations or misusing those funds in a manner that constitutes a material violation of HUD requirements.

  • Certification Requirement – Housing counseling required under or provided in connection with HUD programs must be provided only by certified housing counselors who work for organizations approved to participate in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program. In order to be certified, an individual must both pass a standardized written examination covering six major topic areas, and work for an agency approved to participate in HUD’s housing counseling program.

    Timing – In effect August 1, 2020 (36 months after the date the certification examination becomes available)
     
  • Requirement for Agencies that Provide Homeownership Counseling – All agencies approved to participate in HUD’s housing counseling program that provide “homeownership counseling” shall address the entire process of homeownership as outlined in the Final Rule.

    Timing – In effect January 13, 2017 (30 days after the date of publication of the Final Rule)
     
  • Requirement related to Distribution of Home Inspection Materials – As part of the homeownership counseling process, participating agencies shall provide clients with such materials as HUD may require regarding the availability and importance of obtaining an independent home inspection.

    Timing – In effect January 13, 2017 (30 days after the date of publication of the Final Rule)
     
  • Agencies found to have Misused Housing Counseling Program Grant funds – This final rule requires an agency participating in HUD’s housing counseling program that has been found to have misused Housing Counseling Program grant funds in a way that constitutes a material violation to reimburse HUD for such misused amounts, return any unused or unobligated grant funds, and be prohibited from receiving housing counseling grant funds in the future.

    Timing – In effect January 13, 2017 (30 days after the date of publication of the Final Rule)
     
  • Prohibition against Distribution of Funds to Organizations Convicted of Violating Election Laws – Prohibits the distribution of Comprehensive Housing Counseling or Housing Counseling Training grant funds to any agency participating in HUD’s housing counseling program that has been convicted of a violation under Federal law relating to an election for Federal office, or any agency participating in HUD’s housing counseling program that employs an individual who has been convicted for a violation under Federal law relating to an election of a Federal office.

    Timing – In effect January 13, 2017 (30 days after the date of publication of the Final Rule)

Submit Questions to the Office of Housing Counseling

If you have questions that are not addressed in our FAQs and need further information, please contact housing.counseling@hud.gov with questions. Please put in the Subject line “Housing Counseling Certification Rule” and, if applicable, the name of the HUD program you are inquiring about (e.g., Subject: Housing Counseling Certification Rule – ROSS).