May 2021 Fair Housing Report

Rick Robinson

Administrations may change, but Fair Housing enforcement actions continue.

Before going directly into the latest cases, it is important to note that, shortly after entering office, President Biden wrote an Executive Order on Fair Housing and discrimination. Read the Executive Order here. The Acting Secretary for HUD back in January stated, “Only by recognizing and acknowledging our nation’s history of housing discrimination can we begin to lift the barriers to safe, accessible, and affordable housing. With this executive order, President Biden is taking meaningful action to advance racial equity in housing and expand opportunity for all.”

A second Executive Order was issued about a month later interprets the Fair Housing Act to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and directing HUD offices and recipients of HUD funds to enforce the Act accordingly. Read the Executive Order by clicking here.

Here are the Fair Housing Act cases reported by HUD since President Biden has taken office. As always there are quite a few Assistance Animal and Reasonable Accommodation cases in the list, but a few news twists, as well.

ALABAMA – “No Pets” policy brings HUD charge where the owner refused to rent a unit to a prospective tenant with disabilities who uses an assistance animal. Read the Charge here.

CALIFORNIA – Denial of Assistance Animals continues to be a source of Charges and settlements. Read the Conciliation Agreement in this case here.

CALIFORNIA – HUD charged the owners and employees of a business known as The House Lawyer (THL), with violating the Fair Housing Act by targeting Hispanic homeowners with illegal and unfair mortgage modification services. HUD’s charge alleges, among other things, that the company collected fees from Hispanic borrowers for loan modification services prior to the completion of those services, in violation of California law, while encouraging them to withhold their mortgage payments, putting them at risk of foreclosure. Read the Charge here.

CALIFORNIA – HUD settled a case wherein they charged the owners and managers of a housing property for failing to provide language access services to the complex’s Vietnamese residents and retaliated against an employee for advocating for the housing providers to provide Limited English Proficient (LEP) services. Read the Conciliation Agreement here.

ILLINOIS – A settlement was reached with JP Morgan Chase resolving a claim resolving that the bank accepted an appraisal that valued her home at an amount lower than its actual worth because of her race. Read the Conciliation Agreement here.

INDIANA – Here a Bloomington housing provider refused to permit an Indiana University graduate student, who suffered from depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, to keep an assistance animal in an apartment.
Read the Charge here.

KANSAS – An HOA and its Board have been charged with violating the Fair Housing Act for allegedly refusing to allow a resident with a mobility impairment to expand her own sidewalk at her own expense. The requested modification would have enabled the resident to use her walker and have more stability. HUD’s charge also alleges that, rather than granting the requested accommodation from HOA restrictions, the HOA retaliated against the resident by removing her from a position on the HOA board and denying her reinstatement request. Read the Charge here.

MISSOURI – HUD charged the owner of duplex apartments in Hamilton, Missouri, and their property manager, with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant a prospective tenant with a mental health disability a reasonable accommodation to waive the required pet deposit for her assistance animal. Read the Charge here.

NEVADA – This case settled an interesting set of facts where a housing provider refused a reasonable accommodation to be moved to a different apartment because bulges in the carpet of their unit made it hard for one of the occupants to move around via her walker. Read the Conciliation Agreement here.

NEW YORK – Here is a case with a new twist. HUD is suspending federal affordable housing funds to an apartment operator, after a HUD investigation revealed that it violated federal anti-discrimination laws in the operation of 81 units of multifamily housing in Brooklyn, New York. Read the letter here.

OREGON – A settlement was reached with Wells Fargo resolving a claim that the bank lender denied her loan after learning it was for a group home for persons with disabilities. Read the Conciliation Agreement here.

PENNSYLVANIA – Here HUD’s charge specifically alleges that rental agents for the landlord told fair housing testers posing as prospective tenants with disabilities that they could accept service animals but were not permitted to accept “emotional support” animals. Read the Charge here.

PENNSYLVANIA – HUD has charged the husband-and-wife owners of apartments in Pennsylvania, with sexual harassment and retaliation against a female resident. HUD’s charge alleges that the husband groped and tried to forcibly kiss the woman when he was in her unit to perform electrical repairs. HUD’s charge further alleges that the owners retaliated against the woman and her infant child after she told the wife about the husband’s harassment. Read the charge here.

PUERTO RICO – Charges involving discrimination and inaccessibility were settled in this one. Read the Conciliation Agreement here.

RHODE ISLAND – In this case, HUD accusing is accusing the owner and manager of several rental properties of violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to rent to families with children. HUD’s charge alleges that the owners stated that they cannot have children at the property and refused to show available units to fair housing testers posing as prospective tenants with children. Read the Charge here.

TEXAS – HUD is not looking into violations by housing authorities. In published findings, HUD accused the Housing Authority of Dallas (DHA), Texas, of discriminating against a disabled tenant by failing to provide a reasonable accommodation and seeking to evict her. Specifically, the DHA failed to transfer a tenant with a mobility disability to a ground-floor unit, forcing her to leave her wheelchair and crawl up or down the stairs in order to access or leave her housing. Read the Letter of Findings here.

TEXAS – In this case, HUD’s charge alleges that the owner of a six-bedroom home stated he could not rent the home to a family with eleven people, even though the mother, a HUD Housing Choice Voucher recipient, was qualified to rent the home. Read the Charge here.


About Rick Robinson

Well-known industry professional Rick Robinson has joined to become its Executive Vice President of Industry Relations. In that role, the former General Counsel/Senior Vice President of State and Local Affairs for the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) will be working to bring a new level of consumer technology to those buying homes and residing in communities.
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