Blog – Fair Housing Defense

http://fairhousing.foxrothschild.com/

Scott is the founder and editor of the firm's Fair Housing Defense Blog, which offers discussion and insight on fair housing compliance and other areas of interests to apartment owners and management companies as well as professional management employees.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Issues With Online Emotional Support Animals Medical Verifications   The issue of online medical verifications for emotional support animals (ESA’s) is an ongoing problem for professional apartment management. As written in this space before, we want to approve all legitimate reasonable accommodation requests for our residents who need assistance animals. The key, of course, is “legitimate” – and that is the issue. I now have a number of different clients all working to review and evaluate ESA requests to determine, as best they can, if the medical verifications are... More
  • DOJ Settles Sexual Harassment Fair Housing Act Lawsuit for $600,000 The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that it settled a Fair Housing Act (FHA) discrimination lawsuit with the owners/managers of more than 70 residential properties in West Virginia to resolve allegations that the property manager sexually harassed female residents and applicants. Under the terms of the deal, which was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, the defendants will pay a total of $600,000 (that is not a misprint) in damages and... More
  • What’s the Difference Between a “Service Animal,” an “Assistance Animal,” and an “Emotional Support Animal”?   As written in this space (and elsewhere) all too frequently, professional apartment owners and managers have seen a significant surge in the number of reasonable accommodation requests by residents with animals. Some of these requests are legitimate and we are happy to approve them. An increasing percentage of these requests, however, appear to be questionable at best and reflect an effort to avoid otherwise legitimate pet rent/fees. As a part of the review and evaluation process, here are some definitions... More
  • DOJ Settles Race and National Origin Fair Housing Act Case for $70,000 Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) settled a Fair Housing Act (FHA) case filed in Massachusetts for $70,000 in which the Complainants asserted discrimination based on race and national origin. As a part of its investigation, DOJ concluded that the Defendants discriminated against residents of South Asian descent in violation of the FHA. Specifically, the allegations were that, for over a five year period, ownership steered (legalese for directed) native South Asian residents to certain buildings in the... More
  • What is the “Mrs. Murphy” Exception to the Fair Housing Act? I get this question about exemptions to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) regularly, so I thought I would provide a refresher on the “Mrs. Murphy” exception to the FHA. At the outset, please know that apartment community owners, management companies, and leasing office staff members I represent are almost always covered by the FHA as well as companion state, city, or county anti housing discrimination laws. In my world, the FHA and its implementing regulations are part of the guidebook... More
  • HUD/Fair Housing After Six Months of the Trump Administration   While I always try to avoid political commentary here at the Fair Housing Defense Blog (as the reader comments can be, shall we say, colorful), I wanted to note a couple of housing related points with the Trump Administration in place now for just under six months. First, Dr. Ben Carson was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Secretary of the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) back in the Spring. While Dr. Carson admittedly did not have experience... More
  • HUD Announces National Origin and Familial Status Fair Housing Case Settles for $20,000 The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced that it settled another fair housing case, this one for $20,000, to resolve allegations of discrimination based on national origin and familial status. Two related complaints were filed against the community manager of a California property asserting that he made discriminatory statements about Hispanic residents and that the manager prohibited certain children from playing outside. The case started when two Hispanic couples filed a complaint alleging that the owner and... More
  • HUD Approves $20,500 Assistance Animal Fair Housing Settlement Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved a settlement agreement concerning assistance animals and fees charged to residents. To resolve pending Fair Housing Act (FHA) disability discrimination complaints, the property owners and managers agreed to pay $20,500 to the Nevada housing advocacy group which filed the cases. The allegations concerned claims that residents who required assistance animals were required to pay a pet deposit fee at three different properties in Nevada.  As has been noted in... More
  • Some Thoughts on Fair Housing and Smoking   A friend reached out to me to ask questions about HUD’s Smoke Free public housing initiative and for some general thoughts on smoking in apartment homes. So, here goes. There is no “right” to smoke in a rental home. Smokers are not a protected class under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) or its state law counterparts. While some have tried to argue smoking is addictive and, as such, should qualify as a disability, to my knowledge no court has so... More
  • Occupancy Standards and Fair Housing: A Short Summary   Occupancy standards are an issue which come up from time to time. On the one hand, a family certainly should have the right to decide the size of the apartment home they need and/or can afford.  On the other hand, management has a legitimate health and safety right to put a reasonable limit in place.  We do not want, and the law will not support, eight people living in a one bedroom unit.  The issue, of course, is where those two... More