When I started writing this blog, I feared the only readers would be my Mom and my wife. Fair housing from the perspective of management’s lawyer? Who would read that? In any event, monthly readership hit 1,000. And then grew to 2,000. And earlier this year, the Fair Housing Defense blog started getting over 3,000 hits a month. Yes, my Firm keeps score. I am still astounded by (but very much appreciate) that growth. Oh, and let’s see if my wife still checks in: Happy Birthday, sweetie.
Now, earlier this month, HUD released a new proposed rule to formalize the standards for evaluating harassment claims in housing or housing-related transactions under our Fair Housing Act (FHA). The rule – “Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices under the Fair Housing Act” – intends to define “quid pro quo harassment” and “hostile environment harassment,” respectively, as (i) subjecting a person to an unwelcome request or demand because of the person’s protected characteristic and submission to the request or demand is, explicitly or implicitly, made a condition related to the person’s housing; and (ii) subjecting a person to unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive such that it interferes with or deprives the person the right to use and enjoy the housing or to exercise other rights protected by the FHA.
The proposed rule also would describe standards for “direct liability” and “vicarious liability”, which would apply to all FHA violation, not only harassment. For example, HUD proposes to define “direct liability” to include (i) a person’s own conduct; (ii) failure to take prompt action with respect to a discriminatory housing practice by an employee or action; and (iii) failing to fulfill a duty to take prompt action to correct and end a discriminatory housing practice by a third-party, where the person knew or should have known of the discriminatory conduct.
These proposals were published in the Federal Register on October 21, 2015 and comments are due by December 21, 2015. I will review and provide an analysis of what these proposed changes might mean to professional apartment management.
Just A Thought.