Why a Fair Housing Defense blog?  It is a question I got this morning.  And it struck me that I have not posted this introduction for some time now.  I have been representing apartment management companies, their employees, and providing fair housing advice as well as defending housing discrimination cases for over 17 years. I have had a docket of cases stretching from Alaska to Florida and just about everywhere in between. My cases get investigated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Justice  in addition to many state, city, and county agencies.

The goal of this blog is to provide a forum for issues of interest to apartment owners and management companies as well as professional apartment management employees.

Ours is a Noble Mission – we provide important housing. We are committed to following the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) as well as the many state and local laws which prohibit discrimination in housing. Noting that you do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, disability, national origin or familial status is only a good start.

On its face, the law seems simple enough: don’t discriminate. All applicants and residents should be treated equally and with respect. But, each situation is fact intensive and requires an individualized review of the circumstances.

For what it is worth, each year I see more and more reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification requests from resident (and/or applicants) with disabilities.  Furthermore, the number of service/companion animal requests exponentially grows.

Some common questions I see include:

  • How do I respond to a reasonable accommodation/modification request?
  • What medical verification is appropriate?
  • What about those which add source of income as a protected class?
  • Should you accept vouchers?
  • Do you know the difference between a reasonable accommodation and a reasonable modification?
  • Who pays for a reasonable modification?
  • Does a request for a reasonable accommodation have to be related to the claimed disability?
  • What is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and why are two agencies investigating the same complaint?
  • Can I have occupancy standards for my apartments?
  • What do you do when the investigator asks you to halt eviction proceedings in an effort to settle the case?
  • How do you handle an investigator who wants to interview all of your employees? Or review all your files?
  • What about when the investigator who wants to knock on the doors of your residents?
  • Should you still evict a resident even after he has filed a fair housing complaint?
  • Should you place an advertisement in a church flyer?

Those are just some of the issues I hope to explore. I will do my best to give some insight based on my experience and offer solutions.

There will be no lectures here, but I will try to leave you with –

Just A Thought.