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

  • Fair Housing Defense: Top Ten Blog Posts from 2020 With my annual apology to David Letterman, the first Fair Housing Defense blog entry of the year is always my favorite as I highlight the Top Ten posts from the previous year (and you can click on each entry if you want to read it). I am not surprised to see that issues involving the pandemic (obviously new for 2020) as well as emotional support animals (certainly not new for 2020) got the most reader views. Here is the full... More
  • Thoughts On Avoiding Criminal Background FHA Claims I have heard from a couple of clients (and potential new clients) recently after they received either a demand letter or lawsuit (or both) asserting their property violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) related to criminal background screening. The letter from counsel asserts that an applicant tried to rent an apartment and was rejected because the potential applicant has a criminal record. If form holds, the potential applicant also notes he or she is a minority (such as African American... More
  • HUD Settles Sexual Harassment Fair Housing Act Charge from California for $13,000 Pursuant to the terms of a conciliation agreement, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced earlier this month that it facilitated settlement of a sexual harassment Fair Housing Act (FHA) case from California. As a part of the agreement, the Respondents, although denying the allegations, agreed to pay $13,000 as well as provide a neutral landlord reference. Factually, a resident claimed she was harassed by a maintenance employee at the property. After reporting the alleged misconduct, the resident... More
  • Early Lease Terminations and COVID-19: Here Are Some Guidelines As written here (and elsewhere), the COVID era has raised housing law issues nobody had thought of until March 2020. While there are recently approved vaccines, until those vaccines are widely distributed to the American public (and I fully support health care professionals, first responders, frontline workers, as well as nursing home residents and other vulnerable seniors going to the front of the line), it appears the pandemic will be with us all for a number of more months. A... More
  • Department of Transportation Limits Emotional Support Animal Travel on Airlines As Fair Housing Defense blog readers are aware, the issue of questionable/fraudulent medical verifications for certain assistance animals has vexed both the professional apartment industry and airlines for some time now. In an effort to provide additional guidance for air travel, last week the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a final rule which provides that airlines “are not required to recognize emotional support animals as service animals and may treat them as pets.” In short, the DOT decision means that... More
  • “Is My Property Covered Under the Fair Housing Laws?” Your humble Fair Housing Defense Blog editor gets questions from readers time to time. Which is good. Some I can’t answer off the cuff – such as “[i]t will just take a minute, but can you tell me how much my claim is worth?” Obviously, I can’t do that.  And remember, I am the guy who represents professional apartment ownership/management. Another question I regularly get concerns if a specific property is covered under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). The... More
  • An Apartment Community Holiday Decoration Guide The most uncommon year of 2020 continues on, with a most unusual Thanksgiving last week. Accordingly, it is now time for my annual Fair Housing Blog apartment community holiday decoration guide. How do we respect the Christmas celebrations of some, Hanukkah beliefs of others, as well as festive traditions of various other cultures? Can we put up decorations involving Santa Claus? What about Christmas trees? Rudolph? Menorahs? And what to do if some residents celebrate nothing during this time of... More
  • HUD Settles Disability Fair Housing Act Case for $34,900 Pursuant to the terms of a formal Consent Order, earlier this month, a property owner/manager in Georgia agreed to settle a Fair Housing Act (FHA) disability discrimination case for $34,900 as well as various additional affirmative relief. Factually, the case arose because a resident who received disability benefits sought a reasonable accommodation to move the date his rent was due to match up with the date his disability check arrived. What made the situation worse for management here was that... More
  • HUD Charges Pennsylvania Property With Disability Discrimination Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced that it charged a Pennsylvania property owner with disability discrimination related to assistance animals and designated parking spaces pursuant to the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The case was referred to HUD by a local fair housing tester agency. The agency received a report from an applicant that the property charged pet deposits and/or pet rent for emotional support animals. The complaint notes that counsel for the property sent... More
  • HUD Initiates Religious Discrimination Fair Housing Act Case Most of the fair housing cases I report about in this Blog are brought by individuals or on behalf of individuals by a local fair housing advocacy group. There is, however, another way for a complaint to be filed. The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) as well as many state law counterparts, permit what is called a “Secretary’s Complaint” to be initiated against a property owner or manager. Complaints filed by the Secretary of the Department of Housing & Urban Development... More