Ability To Repay

An individual's financial capacity to make good on a debt. Specifically, the phrase "ability to repay" was used in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in Title XIV, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, to describe the requirement that mortgage originators substantiate that potential borrowers can afford the mortgage they are applying for. Originators are required to look at a borrower's total current income and existing debt, for example, to make sure that the existing debt plus the potential mortgage debt, property taxes and required insurance do not exceed a stated percentage of the borrower's income.

The purpose of this legislation and the "ability to repay" standard was to prevent lenders from employing the same loose lending criteria used during the housing bubble of the mid-2000s, in which many people were allowed to take out mortgages they couldn't really afford, then lost their homes to foreclosure a few years later. Under the new laws, individuals who are not properly subjected to the ability to repay standard during the origination process may have a defense against foreclosure.


Investment dictionary. . 2012.

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