Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Update: HUD Resumes Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST Services

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced yesterday that its Fair Housing Accessibility FIRST initiative, which has pursued a mission of promoting compliance with the Fair Housing Act's design and construction requirements since 2003, is back in business.

This past November, I wrote that all services associated with the initiative were suspended pending HUD's negotiation of a new contract. While the site's collection of useful resources remained functional, the initiative's programs and toll-free information line for technical guidance and support were indefinitely on hold.

If you visit the site now, you can get information about the new training schedule, which begins on August 22.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Anti-Black Doesn't Always Mean Pro-White

Most of the time, race discrimination cases under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) center around a landlord or property manager who allegedly favors white tenants above all others. But a new Charge of Discrimination announced July 21 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) against a Cincinnati, Ohio landlord and property manager shows this doesn't have to be the case.

According to the complaint, testers collected evidence that the landlord and property manager tried to make their 63-unit building become less black and more Hispanic. To do this, they allegedly set up appointments to view available apartments with Hispanic prospective tenants while coming up with various excuses for not letting black prospects view them.

The Charge asks a HUD administrative law judge to assess a $32,000 combined penalty against the landlord and property manager, plus award compensatory and other damages.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Landlord Wouldn't Let Teenager Have Friends Over Without Mother Present

Viable familial status discrimination claims don't have to involve a landlord who refuses to rent to families with children. Often enough, landlords who say they'll rent to families with children but impose certain restrictions on those families also find themselves in fair housing trouble.

A recent example is a Wisconsin landlord who admitted to placing guest restrictions only on tenants with children, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Charge of Discrimination announced today (issued July 12).

After approving a single mother and her 17-year-old son for tenancy and accepting a deposit, he allegedly told the mother she would need to agree to a lease restriction requiring her to be present whenever her son had visitors. The landlord indicated he has had problems in the past with teenagers and also cited a tip from another tenant claiming that the son was a "bad kid" who had been in "trouble."

The mother insisted the tenant's claim is unfounded and suggested the landlord call the police for proof. But the landlord stood firm, leading the mother to file a complaint with HUD alleging Fair Housing Act (FHA) violations. An administrative law judge will now hear the case.

Do you agree with the Charge? Should a landlord ever be allowed to impose restrictions on families with children aimed at controlling teenagers' behavior while in their apartments?

What do you think?