(a) Basic requirements.
(1) Agencies must provide counseling to current and potential homeowners and tenants to assist them in improving their housing conditions and in meeting the responsibilities of homeownership or tenancy.
(2) Except for reverse mortgage counseling, housing counselors and clients must establish an action plan for each counseling client.
(3) Counseling may take place in the office of the housing counseling agency, at an alternate location, or by telephone, as long as mutually acceptable to the housing counselor and client. All agencies participating in HUD's Housing Counseling program that provide services directly to clients must provide in-person counseling to clients that prefer this format.
(4) Regardless of setting or format, counseling activities must be limited to the geographic area specified in the agency's approved housing counseling work plan.
(5) With prior approval from HUD, a network of affiliated counselors or a HUD roster of counselors, designed to meet a special housing counseling need, may be permitted to provide specified types of counseling nationally.
(6) All participating agencies that offer group educational sessions must also offer individual counseling on the same topics covered in the group educational sessions.
(7) All participating agencies that provide homeownership counseling, shall address the entire process of homeownership, including, but not limited to, the decision to purchase a home, the selection and purchase of a home, the home inspection process, issues arising during or affecting the period of ownership of a home (including, but not limited to, financing, refinancing, default, and foreclosure, and other financial decisions), and the sale or other disposition of a home.
(8) All participating agencies that provide rental housing counseling shall address issues related to the rental of residential property, which may include counseling regarding future homeownership opportunities, the decision to rent, responsibilities of tenancy, affordability of renting, and eviction prevention.
(9) 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.
(b) Counseling services. For each client, all agencies participating in HUD's Housing Counseling program shall offer the following basic services:
(1) Housing counseling, on at least one of the topics described in paragraph (d) of this section, that enables a client to make informed and reasonable decisions to achieve his or her housing goal.
(2) Referrals to local, state, and federal resources.
(c) Follow-up. Make a reasonable effort to have follow-up communication with the client, when possible, to assure that the client is progressing toward his or her housing goal, to modify or terminate housing counseling, and to learn and report outcomes.
(d) Agency's housing counseling work plan.
(1) A participating agency shall deliver housing counseling services consistent with the agency's housing counseling work plan. The work plan should identify housing counseling services to be provided in response to one or more of the needs in targeted communities and geographic areas where the agency and its branches and affiliates provide their housing counseling services.
(2) Participating agencies may also conduct marketing and outreach, including, but not limited to, providing general information about housing opportunities, conducting information campaigns, and raising awareness about critical housing topics such as predatory lending and fair housing topics.
(e) Approved housing counseling, education, and outreach topics. The following are examples of approved housing counseling, education, and outreach topics that participating agencies may provide to and discuss with clients:
(1) Prepurchase/homebuying, including, but not limited to: Advice regarding readiness and preparation, Federal Housing Administration-insured financing, housing selection and mobility, search assistance, fair housing and predatory lending, budgeting and credit, loan product comparison, purchase procedures, and closing costs;
(2) Resolving or preventing mortgage delinquency, including, but not limited to: Default and foreclosure, loss mitigation, budgeting, and credit;
(3) Home maintenance and financial management for homeowners, including, but not limited to: Escrow funds, budgeting, refinancing, home equity, home improvement, utility costs, energy efficiency, rights and responsibilities of home owners, and reverse mortgages;
(4) Rental topics, including, but not limited to: HUD rental and rent subsidy programs; other federal, state or local assistance; fair housing; housing search assistance; landlord tenant laws; lease terms; rent delinquency; and
(5) Homeless assistance, including, but not limited to: Information regarding emergency shelter, other emergency services, and transitional housing.