Below are a few Fair Housing Act enforcement actions that have recently been announced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While these actions do not involve manufactured housing, they give helpful guidance to our industry. These short blurbs are adapted from Press Releases issued by HUD. To read all of HUD’s press releases for 2019, click here.
CALIFORNIA – In a case impacting communities that rent homes (as opposed to strict land-lease), HUD settled a case alleging a housing provider violated the Fair Housing Act and other laws when they refused to install grab bars in the showers of elderly tenants with disabilities and subsequently retaliated against them for making the requests. Read the Conciliation Agreement by clicking here.
The case arose when a married couple with disabilities filed a complaint alleging that the owner and property manager of a seniors’ complex refused to install grab bars in their bathroom and subsequently retaliated against them for making the request. Specifically, the couple claimed that after they asked for the accommodation, they were issued a notice accusing them of having created a noise disturbance.
Lesson learned – Have a reasonable modification policy, conduct an interactive process with the tenant requesting the modification, deny only for reasons allowed under the Fair Housing Act and don’t retaliate.
GEORGIA – In a case regarding a question I’ve been asked at many Fair Housing Act training sessions, HUD has settled a claim where it was alleged that the housing providers (owners and managers) allowed African-American tenants at the property to be subject to repeated instances of racial harassment by white tenants, which included verbal attacks and physical assault. Read the settlement agreement by clicking here.
The case came to HUD’s attention when three African-American residents of an apartment complex filed complaints claiming that the owners of the property refused to investigate and address their claims that white tenants had subjected them to racial harassment and verbal and physical assaults, including attacks by dogs. The three residents further alleged that the property’s management ignored their maintenance requests and delayed the maintenance requests of other African-American residents.
I’ve been asked this question many times in Fair Housing Act training sessions. This is the first case I’ve ever read regarding landlords addressing discrimination amongst tenants. If you face a similar situation, I suggest you show this case to your lawyer before he offers you final legal advice.