Fair housing is an important aspect of living in many communities. Because some populations have historically been the subject of discriminating tactics, there are severe penalties for fair housing violations. Here, we discuss common violations, potential penalties and how to avoid them.
Many fair housing violations have to do with treating families different from single people. For example, housing administrators cannot ask prospective clients about how many children a person has or if they are currently pregnant. Additionally, it may be a fair housing violation to make rules that restrict the actions of children but not other residents.
One of the most common fair housing violations is refusing to accept an application from a potential tenant for any reason other than not meeting the state qualification criteria. These criteria should be transparent.
Additionally, fair housing violations may include not providing reasonable accommodations to tenants, such as not allowing residents to have a service animal or ignoring a request for a handicap parking spot.
Housing organizations must take steps to properly train all staff on fair housing laws to ensure that no discrimination occurs. Providing ongoing training to keep staff informed of changes in the law or new understandings is important.
Fair housing violations can include expensive fines that are tens of thousands of dollars per violation, payment of attorney fees for the discriminated tenant and punitive damages. Fair housing violations may involve hearing in front of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development administrative law judge or the U.S. Department of Justice. Additionally, courts may issue injunctions if immediate action is required.
Methods of Resolution
These disputes can wind up in front of a civil judge or administrative law judge. However, parties may also agree to resolve these types of disputes in mediation for a faster and more affordable solution.