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.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Retirement Community Accused of Penalizing Renters for Needing Motorized Wheelchairs

A Virginia retirement community has been hit with a fair housing complaint for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban on discrimination based on disability.

According to a press release issued Wednesday by Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc. (HOME), the organization filing the complaint, The Towers Retirement Community in Richmond unfairly and illegally places substantial burdens on renters who need to use a motorized wheelchair in connection with a disability.

Specifically, HOME claims that the community requires renters to commit to an additional $1,500 security deposit as well as obtain liability insurance for motorized wheelchairs, essentially making such renters pay for having a disability. Also, renters who use motorized mobility devices are apparently barred from using the community's transportation services—even though they're reportedly required to pay a monthly transportation fee as part of their monthly rent. In addition, HOME alleges that the community requires renters wishing to use a motorized wheelchair to get their disability assessed by the community's staff.

Planning Something for Fair Housing Month?

It's February, which means Fair Housing Month is almost here. (For more information, see "Fair Housing Month: Why April Is Fair Housing Month.")

Are you a member of an organization that's hosting a poster contest, training seminar, or other event to commemorate the passage of the Fair Housing Act and promote housing discrimination awareness in April?

If so, feel free to e-mail the details (including any links) to info@fairhousinghelper.com and we'll mention it as part of our Fair Housing Month coverage on Fair Housing Blog by Fair Housing Helper.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Denver Fair Housing Audit Reveals 'Pervasive' Discrimination

The Denver Metro Fair Housing Center (DMFHC) yesterday released the findings of its audit into fair housing practices, in a report entitled “Access Denied: A Report on Rental Housing Discrimination in the Denver Metro Area.”

The DMFHC's report is based on testing conducted in late 2013, in which white prospects were paired with black or Latino testers, and testers without children were paired with testers with children.

According to the report, apartment hunters are likely to encounter discrimination 91% of the time if they are Latino and 67% of the time if they are black. Also, a bias against families with children was present 73% of the time. DMFHC Executive Director Arturo Alvarado said the audit's “dramatic results" reveal that fair housing compliance "is a pervasive problem in our community and that our public officials must take action now to enforce fair housing laws and publicly condemn housing discrimination.”

Although this audit focused on race, national origin, and familial status, three of the seven protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, the report also cautions against noncompliance with other protected classes under federal as well as state housing discrimination laws.

For example, in its recommendations, the report advises housing providers to implement non-discriminatory policies, noting that:
One example of a policy that is unlawful under state law is an application fee discount offered to married couples only. Because marital status and sexual orientation are protected classes in Colorado, providing a discount to married people that is not available to singles or unmarried couples is an example of discrimination in terms, conditions, or privileges of rental.
You can download the full report here.