See pages: 68-70 in the HUD Housing Counseling Handbook
“7-6 Fees for Housing Counseling and Related Services.
Participating agencies may charge reasonable and customary fees for housing education and counseling services (including HECM counseling see additional guidance below) as long as the cost does not create a financial hardship for the client.
Participating agencies must assess a client’s household income and monthly expenses to determine if charging the client a fee for service will create a financial hardship. The agency should examine factors including but not limited to, household income and debt obligations to determine a client‟s ability to pay for counseling services.
If an agency serves a client with an annual household income of less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level the agency should consider waiving the fee in its entirety or reducing the fee to an amount the client can afford to pay.
Additionally, fees must not be charged for education or counseling provided in the following services areas: mortgage delinquency; default or homelessness.
An agency‟s fee schedule must be posted in the counseling office in a prominent place, easily viewed by all visitors to the agency, and must be available to HUD for review. In addition, the fee schedule must be communicated verbally to all potential counseling and education recipients prior to the provision of services. Fee schedules must include the cost of credit reports, if applicable.
Only the portion of the counseling or education session not covered by fees can be charged to the HUD Housing Counseling NOFA grant if fees charged to the client do not cover the full cost of the session. Clients cannot be charged for the initial client intake (See Chapter 3, Paragraph 3-3). Clients can only be charged a fee for housing counseling and education services provided as described in Chapter 3.
A. If an agency chooses to charge fees, the agency must conform to the following guidelines:
1. Provide counseling without charge to persons who cannot afford the fees.
2. Fees must be commensurate with the level of services provided, and be reasonable and customary for the area.
3. Agencies may not impose fees upon clients for the same portion of or for an entire service that is already funded with HUD grant funds.
4. The agency must disclose all fees that will or may be charged to the client, prior to the beginning of counseling services.
Note: Additional guidance on fees for HECM clients – the regulations at 24 CFR 214.313, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has determined that agencies participating in HUD‟s Housing Counseling Program may charge a fee for HECM counseling services as long as the cost is reasonable and customary, does not create a financial hardship for the client, and meets the other requirements of the regulation. The housing counseling agency must make a determination about a client ‟s ability to pay, which should include factors, including, but not limited to, income and debt obligations. HUD recommends that the housing counseling agency have written procedures in place for determining ability to pay.
Such procedures should support that a determination is based on objective criteria, and not a subjective determination. The counseling file of each client charged fees should include documentation demonstrating that the cost does not create a financial hardship.
A client must not be turned away because of an inability to pay. Moreover, the housing counseling agency may not withhold counseling or the Certificate of HECM Counseling based on failure to pay.”
– HUD Housing Counseling Handbook