Blog – Fair Housing Defense

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

  • DOJ Settles Another Familial Status FHA Case — This Time For $30,000 When I started writing this blog, I was afraid that only my family and perhaps a couple of friends would actually read it. I remain gratified as to the number of hits Fair Housing Defense receives every month (I work for a big law firm, we track everything). However, today is my wife’s birthday (Hi Sweetie!) – let’s see if she reads this. Continuing their efforts to enforce the Fair Housing Act (FHA), last month the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)... More
  • DOJ Files “Statement of Interest” in FHA Case Concerning Criminal Background Screens While individuals with a criminal record are not listed as one of the seven protected class in our federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) issued guidelines in April 2016 indicating that some apartment criminal screens have a “disparate impact” on African American and Hispanic applicants for housing as there are a higher percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in jail then their percentage of the population would otherwise indicate. As such, the federal... More
  • DOJ Resolves “Design and Construction” Fair Housing Act Case: Settlement Requires Corrective Actions and a Fund to Compensate Victims At the end of last month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had reached a settlement of a new lawsuit with the builders and developers of 31 apartment buildings in Helena, MT in which the DOJ asserted that the projects were constructed in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) as they were not accessible to individuals with disabilities. In the complaint, DOJ alleged that 64 ground floor units were built with steps to entrances, inaccessible bathrooms and... More
  • DOJ Resolves Fair Housing Act Case in Utah Concerning Residents With Disabilities and Service/Emotional Support Animals Continuing its efforts to enforce the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), last week the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that the owners and managers of four apartment communities in Utah agreed to pay $45,000 to settle a lawsuit asserting that they discriminated against residents and applicants with disabilities. The complaint alleged that the defendants failed to provide reasonable accommodations to certain residents with disabilities with respect to their service and/or emotional support animals. The specific claim was that the owners/managers mandated that residents... More
  • HUD Suggests Individuals With Limited English Proficiency Are Now Covered Under the Fair Housing Act On September 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (“HUD”) issued new guidance impacting apartment management concerning residents who have limited proficiency reading, writing, speaking, or understanding the English language (“LEP”). Housing providers who take adverse actions against such people now run a new risk of liability under the provision of the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) protects individuals based upon their national origin. HUD’s guidance concludes that anyone who discriminates against a person because of their LEP (although... More
  • New Criminal Screening Guidelines: Time to Review Your Policy Here we go. Faithful Fair Housing Defense blog readers may recall that I reported on new guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) back in April 2016 noting that what they believe as strict criminal history screening on housing applicants by management may have a “disparate impact” on certain protected classes (in this case African American and Hispanics) as individuals from those two classes are in jail at a higher percentage than one would otherwise expect... More
  • DOJ Files New Sexual Harassment Fair Housing Act Lawsuit Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ filed a new Fair Housing Act (FHA) complaint in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri asserting that two landlords in St. Louis subjected female residents at their property to sexual harassment and retaliation. The lawsuit, which resulted following an administrative complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, asserts that the offensive harassment included conditioning housing or housing benefits on an agreement to engage in certain... More
  • DOJ Settles Familial Status Fair Housing Act Case for $25,000 Late last month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it settled another familial status Fair Housing Act (FHA) case pending against seven Michigan apartment complexes. The lawsuit, filed in November 2015, asserted that the defendants discriminated against families with children by prohibiting them from renting one bedroom units in the properties owned by the defendants.  The evidence to support the discrimination claims was developed by a local fair housing advocacy group which sent testers posing as prospective renters... More
  • Fair Housing and LGBT: State of the Law Discrimination on the basis of sex was added as a protected class to our federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) in 1974 and is settled law. But, is discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT) individuals covered under the FHA?  Should it be?  While LGBT persons are not specifically identified in the text of the statute, that does not end the inquiry.  HUD promulgated regulations which provide that discrimination against LGBT persons in HUD housing (or in home mortgages insured... More
  • DOJ Files Familial Status Fair Housing Act Complaint in Minnesota The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a recent familial status Fair Housing Act (FHA) case in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, asserting that the owner and manager of a small apartment community treated families with children “less favorably” than adults with respect to the use of various common areas. The complaint also claimed that management “printed and published” discriminatory statements which indicated an intent to limit access by children to the entire property. According to the government, the apartment lease provided... More