As an owner or management company employee of an apartment community, we have many responsibilities delegated to us pursuant to the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Among the things we cannot do is retaliate against a resident, applicant, or former resident because he or she previously filed a fair housing complaint. Even if the prior case was wholly without merit, management cannot retaliate against that person. Additionally, the prohibition against retaliation also applies to anyone who assisted someone else in filing a complaint or exercising rights under the FHA.
Retaliation can be defined as punishing or otherwise striking out against someone for filing a fair housing complaint. It typically arises if management non-renews or moves to evict a resident who previously filed a complaint. Again, even if the prior complaint was meritless, management cannot act because of the prior case. HUD and the various state, city, and county agencies who investigate complaints take retaliation claims seriously and we must prove our innocence.
To be sure, management must guard against a resident who believes he or she is bullet proof and cannot be evicted or non-renewed simply because of a prior fair housing complaint. Make no mistake, non-renewals are not common. Management wants most of our residents to sign new leases. But, there are times when a resident behaves in such a manner as to force our hand. If that resident has filed a previous complaint, management’s best protection is to ensure the file is documented as to why a resident received a notice of non-renewal. As I have written many times before, ensure that everyone is treated the same and we have a record to act as we did.
Otherwise, you will need a lawyer like me.
Just A Thought.