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

  • Here Come the Holidays: What to do about Decorations in Apartment Communities? Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror. Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays will be here sooner than we think. A great time for kids and families. Santa Claus. Christmas trees. Menorahs. Decorations. For professional apartment management, however, the question of what to do (or not do) with respect to holiday displays and decorations comes up each year at this time. Leasing office staff members are required to balance the religious and holiday requests of all, while showing a preference to... More
  • DOJ Files New Fair Housing Act Disability Discrimination Action A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a new Fair Housing Act (FHA) lawsuit against the owner, builder, and designer of a housing complex near Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. In the complaint, the DOJ asserts that the apartment-style homes were constructed without complying with the FHA’s accessibility requirements. The lawsuit states that each of three buildings on the property have nine individually keyed units with their own bathroom and desk as well as... More
  • Can a Property Owner Disclaim Responsibility for Complying With Accessibility Guidelines? In addition to renting units, many apartment owners/managers rent space for commercial enterprises (such as restaurants and stores) in their properties. Which can make good sense for both – providing a needed service or store with a ready-made group of people living extremely close by. All good, right? But, remember that when you lease space to a commercial vendor and that tenant modifies the space for a restaurant and/or shop – make sure that the renovated site conforms with the accessibility... More
  • Exemptions to the Fair Housing Act? Here Are a Few. But Most Professional Apartment Communities Will Need to Comply With the Law In response to regular requests, here is a summary of when the Fair Housing Act (FHA) may not be applicable. Again, if you are a professional property management company or employee, it is extremely likely the FHA (as well as state, city, and/or county anti-discrimination laws) applies. Nevertheless, here are some guidelines: The FHA does not generally apply to small owner-occupied buildings (a property with four or less units) when the owner resides in one of the units. This is referred... More
  • 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