The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has implemented a new rule that broadens the ability of lenders in rural and underserved areas to originate qualified mortgages.

The CFPB's interim final rule, approved Tuesday, effectively implements the Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Communities Act, also known as the HELP Act. The new rule will take effect March 31.

"This rule provides broader eligibility for lenders serving those areas to originate balloon-payment qualified and high-cost mortgages," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a news release.

Congress' approval of the HELP Act broadens the category of rural small lenders that can qualify to make loans under the Truth in Lending Act.

The CFPB has previously taken steps to provide more flexibility to community banks operating in rural and underserved areas.

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