What's Behind The Changes Fair Housing Law?
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin.
On April 4, 2016 HUD’s Office of General Counsel issued new guidance with warnings about the use of criminal history when considering a new rental applicant. Specifically, the new guidance addresses the chance of discrimination by a landlord in which a landlord justifies an adverse housing action – such as a refusal to rent or renew a lease – based on an individual’s criminal history
Update - Changes To Fair Housing Laws
After careful review of the new guidance from HUD which warns about the use of criminal history when considering a new rental applicant, we offer the following suggestions:
Update Your Company Policy
- HUD did not warn landlords to never consider criminal history. Thus you should obtain a National Criminal History report for EVERY person who completes a Rental Application or obtain them for NO ONE. It is clearly discrimination to order reports for some applicants but not all.
Feds Fine Landlord for not Allowing Tenant to Have Dog for Emotional Support
A landlord from Oswego, NY has been charged with housing discrimination after refusing to allow a tenant to move in with an emotional support dog, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday.
HUD officials said the case involves a woman with a mental disability who filed a complaint after Hillside Park Real Estate denied her request to keep a 66-pound American Staffordshire terrier in an apartment she had leased.
The federal complaint seeks $16,000 in a civil penalty against Hillside Park Real Estate, as well as damages to compensate the woman who was denied the right to rent the apartment. Full Story
The New Yorker - Pets Allowed
What a wonderful time it is for the scammer, the conniver, and the cheat: the underage drinkers who flash fake I.D.s, the able-bodied adults who drive cars with handicapped license plates, the parents who use a phony address so that their child can attend a more desirable public school, the customers with eleven items who stand in the express lane. The latest group to bend the law is pet owners.
New Florida Law Pertaining to Rental Applications from Service Members
A new new Florida Statute Section 83.683 becomes effective July 1, 2016. This new law, in part, addresses the rental of property to “servicemembers,” and applies to condominiums, cooperatives, homeowner associations, and landlords.
The pertinent section of the law requires a landlord, condominium, cooperative, homeowner association, or landlord to complete the processing of a rental application submitted by a servicemen within a specified timeframe. It says that a landlord is required to process a rental application from a military servicemen within seven days of submission. Within that seven day period, the landlord must provide a written response of the approval or denial of the application, and if denied, the reason for the denial.
If they do not provide a timely denial of the rental application, the landlord must lease the rental unit to the servicemen if all other terms of the application and lease are met. Read More
Urgent Warning for Those with Android Phones
What is ransomware?
Ransomare is software with malicious code that can lock a device or computer so that it cannot be used. This means that you won’t be able to open any apps or access the settings on the device. A message usually appears explaining the device is locked and that you need to pay a “ransom” in order to unlock it and get rid of the malicious software.
The good news is that your data is usually safe, but the bad news is that paying the ransom won’t actually remove the software.
Illegal Immigrants Sue After Landlord Demands Documentation For Housing
Four Latino families filed papers to sue their Virginia landlord Monday after he threatened eviction due to illegal family members living on the premises.
The civil rights lawsuit filed by families living in Waples Mobile Home Park in Fairfax County, Va., claims it is discriminatory to require a social security number for residency. The landlords at the mobile home park are requiring residents to provide either a social security card, passport or valid visa with documentation to renew their leases, reports The Washington Post.
The lawyers representing the families, from the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan law firm, say the actions are targeted discrimination that disproportionately affects Latinos in the community. All the families involved in the lawsuit have lived in the park for at least two years and have at least one family member without legal residency. The landlords say they need the documentation in order to conduct proper criminal background checks. Read More
Landlord To Pay $5,000 For Denying Apartment to Woman Who Sought to Pay with Rental Assistance
New Jersey acting Attorney General Robert Lougy and the Division on Civil Rights announced today that a Monmouth County landlord has agreed to pay a woman $5,000 to resolve allegations he refused to rent her an apartment once she indicated her intention to pay using federal Section 8 housing vouchers.
In addition to paying Shakisha Wallace $500 per month for 10 months, attorney Scott Kelly and his company, 374 Sairs Avenue LLC, will be subject under a settlement agreement to monitoring by the Division for two years to ensure compliance with fair housing laws.
Under the agreement, Kelly also must attend a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) class focused on the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The CLE course must include a module on fair housing laws that is approved by the Division.
Bad News for Landlords, Hoarding is Now Recognized as a Mental Disorder
So as I read the morning news I noticed a story about how on May 1, 2013 hoarding will become officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder. I’ve already read several stories about how it relates to the rental industry in terms of dealing with this newly protected class, and even I sat through last year’s presentation about hoarding at the NAA Education Conference in Boston.
The stories always address the situation with the tenant already living in the unit, but the one perspective I hadn’t given much thought to was how this newly protected class would impact the tenant screening process.
Obviously there is no hoarding database. At least not yet. But a renters housekeeping habits are certainly considered during the screening process and often asked about during a call to the current and previous landlord.
So is it discriminating against a protected class if you deny tenancy after the previous landlord tells you the tenant was a hoarder?