Avoid These 3 Common, And Costly, Compliance Missteps

Friday, March 10, 2017

Biggest pitfall? Discounting disability-related requests

You may feel confident that you’ve got your fair housing compliance under control, but numerous recent cases illustrate that Fair Housing Act (FHA) violations continue to be far from clear-cut. Here are some surprising lessons learned from a slew of 2016 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) crackdowns involving discrimination against families with children and people with disabilities.

1. Don’t Deny Children a Place to Play

Did you know that if you deny a family permission to have play equipment, you could face a FHA charge? That’s what happened to Peachtree Court Homeowners Association, Inc. (Peachtree) in Georgia, which purportedly denied such a request and then levied $2,300 in fines against the family for unauthorized improvements when the family attached a slide to their deck.

Peachtree also allegedly barred the family from using some community amenities like the pool, and HUD charged the Association with FHA violations. (See: https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=FHEONo04_14_0799_8.PDF).

Beware: Fair housing testers are out there, and they’re looking for discrimination against families with children. In another case, HUD charged a rental property owner in New Orleans with violating the FHA after the New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (NOFHAC) filed a complaint stemming from a Craigslist ad.

The NOFHAC instructed a tester, posing as a married father with twin babies, to email the owner inquiring about the rental. The owner allegedly replied that a family with young children is not the “best fit” for the rental property. (See: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=FHEONo06_14_1081_8.PDF).

In yet another...

 

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