VA loan rules require the borrower applying for a new purchase home loan to certify he or she plans to take possession of the home within a reasonable time after the purchase and live on the property as the “primary residence”.

VA home loan rules have traditionally permitted the borrower’s spouse to fulfill the VA loan  occupancy requirement, and when a service member is deployed or sent on temporary duty to another location, the occupancy requirements are still met since VA regulations are written to recognize such duty for what it is--a temporary relocation.

But recent changes give borrowers some additional help in meeting VA loan occupancy laws. According to a recent VA circular published on VA.gov, “Public Law 112-154 Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012...was enacted on August 6, 2012. This circular discusses a number of provisions pertaining to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Loan Guaranty Program that were included in the Act.” Those changes include the following:

“The law requires Veterans obtaining a VA-guaranteed home loan to certify intent to occupy the home. For Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans (IRRRLs) certification of previous occupancy is sufficient. In cases where a Veteran is unable to occupy the property because of his/her active duty status as a member of the Armed Forces, certification of occupancy by e Veteran’s spouse is sufficient.

Under P.L. 112-154, the occupancy requirement is also considered met if a dependent child occupies, or will occupy, the property as a home and the Veteran’s attorney-in-fact or the dependent child’s legal guardian makes the occupancy certification. VA has amended VA Form 26-1820, Report and Certification of Loan Disbursement, to accommodate this change.”

That is a very important alteration to the rules. Before this change, only a spouse could fulfill the occupancy requirement. Now, a dependent child may also live in the home to meet the occupancy rule as discussed above. For more information on this rule change, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs directly.

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