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Landlords Agree to Settle Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

The Justice Department today announced that Longview, Washington, landlords Linda and Bert Barber, and their management agent, Lori Thompson, have entered into a consent decree and have agreed pay $25,000 to resolve claims that they discriminated on the basis of disability by refusing to grant a reasonable accommodation to waive a $1,000 pet deposit for a tenant with mental disabilities who needed a dog as an emotional support animal.​

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Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals are becoming more common in the United States. But as it happens questions arise of the legalities and who actually qualifies to have a support animal.

TV Station WAGM 8 has prepared a five part series on the subject.  This is a useful guide for landlords struggling to understand this sometimes difficult topic.

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Will Landlords Have to Answer for Awful Neighbors?

The Obama administration is close to issuing a rule that could give tenants grounds to sue their landlords for discriminatory conduct by their neighbors.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a controversial rule that would establish liability under the Fair Housing Act for housing providers that fail to address discrimination against their tenants by third parties — including other tenants. The Fair Housing Act prohibits refusing to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

The Office of Management and Budget concluded its review of the proposal earlier this month, one of the final steps before a rule becomes final, according to the agency’s website. Often rules become final within 30 days of clearing the OMB review.

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Criminal Conviction Screening Policies: Best Practices to Avoid Disparate Impact Liability

 

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin. It’s origin can be traced all the way back to 1966.

A tremendous expansion of the law was announced on April 4, 2016 when HUD’s Office of General Counsel issued new guidance with warnings about the use of criminal history when considering a new rental applicant.   Specifically, the new guidance addresses the chance of discrimination by a landlord in which a landlord justifies an adverse housing action – such as a refusal to rent or renew a lease – based on an individual’s criminal history

This announcement was an enormous surprise and initially sent waves of fear throughout the rental community.  Lawyers quickly developed quick safe harbor advice for landlords everywhere. 

A month later a sixteen page White Paper was issued by the National Multifamily Housing Council.  This document titled “Criminal Conviction Screening Policies: Best Practices to Avoid Disparate Impact Liability,” was written by Mike Skojec, Partner at Ballard Spahr, LLP. The white paper reviews the HUD guidance, provides the historical and legal context and recommends best practices for apartment owners and operators.

This is required reading by landlords everywhere.  Click Here to view the White Paper

Feds Fine Landlord for not Allowing Tenant to Have Dog for Emotional Support

A landlord from Oswego, NY has been charged with housing discrimination after refusing to allow a tenant to move in with an emotional support dog, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday.

HUD officials said the case involves a woman with a mental disability who filed a complaint after Hillside Park Real Estate denied her request to keep a 66-pound American Staffordshire terrier in an apartment she had leased.

The federal complaint seeks $16,000 in a civil penalty against Hillside Park Real Estate, as well as damages to compensate the woman who was denied the right to rent the apartment.  Full Story

Government shouldn't force you to rent to ex-cons (editorial)

STATEN ISLAND -- We're missing something here.
 
If you want to rent an apartment and have a dog, the landlord can refuse.
 
If you want to rent but your credit is less than good, even though you're not a deadbeat, the landlord can refuse.
 
But if you want to rent and you just did 20 years in the slammer for killing your neighbor, the landlord might not have the right to refuse.
 
So says the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which says landlords cannot broadly deny housing to people with criminal histories.
 
Staten Island Rep. Daniel Donovan has a problem with that, and so do we.

Frequently Asked Questions: Service Animals

Many people with disabilities use a service animal in order to fully participate in everyday life. Dogs can be trained to perform many important tasks to assist people with disabilities, such as providing stability for a person who has difficulty walking, picking up items for a person who uses a wheelchair, preventing a child with autism from wandering away, or alerting a person who has hearing loss when someone is approaching from behind

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Service Animals and Assistance Animals

This notice explains certain obligations of housing providers under the Fair Housing Act (FHAct), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with respect to animals that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities. The Department of Justice's (DOT) amendments to its regulations' for Titles II and III of the ADA limit the definition of "service animal” under the ADA to include only dogs, and further define "service animal" to exclude emotional support animals. This definition, however, does not limit housing providers' obligations to make reasonable accommodations for assistance animals under the FHAct or Section 504. Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal, under both the FHAct and Section 504. In situations where the ADA and the FHAct/Section 504 apply simultaneously (e.g., a public housing agency, sales or leasing offices, or housing associated with a university or other place of education), housing providers must meet their obligations under both the reasonable accommodation standard of the FHAct/Section 504 and the service animal provisions of the ADA.

Souce Document

The New Yorker - Pets Allowed

What a wonderful time it is for the scammer, the conniver, and the cheat: the underage drinkers who flash fake I.D.s, the able-bodied adults who drive cars with handicapped license plates, the parents who use a phony address so that their child can attend a more desirable public school, the customers with eleven items who stand in the express lane. The latest group to bend the law is pet owners.

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Former HUD Official Hopes Fair Housing Rule Sparks More Community Investment

Raphael Bostic

Raphael Bostic

Raphael Bostic is the director of the University of Southern California Bedrosian Center on Governance and the interim director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate and former assistant secretary of HUD under President Obama. During Bostic's three-year tenure at HUD, he oversaw much of the study and analysis that formed the basis of the Department's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule which was announced in early July. Bostic recently spoke with DS Newsabout the AFFH Rule and what he hopes it will achieve.

Why is there a need for this rule at this time?

The mandate for the rule existed in the original Fair Housing Act (1968). If you look at the language, HUD was charged with stamping out any illegal discrimination that it saw, and also with affirmatively taking steps to promote integration and access to opportunity. That's in the law that was written in the '60s, so the mandate is not new and the charge isn't new.  Read More

New Obama housing rules target segregated neighborhoods

Under the new housing discrimination rules, HUD would provide communities with local and regional information about “segregated living patterns” and “racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty” that must be addressed.

The Obama administration moved Wednesday to root out segregation across the United States with a contentious set of regulations meant to update decades-old housing law and bolster the president’s legacy on civil rights.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) initiative is designed to diversify America’s wealthiest neighborhoods while reinvigorating poor communities around the country. Areas that don’t comply with the new rules risk losing federal funding.

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Large Penalties Await Employers Who Reimbursed Certain Employee Health Insurance Premiums In 2014

Do you have people – as in, more than one – working for you? If so, you’re probably knee deep in preparing Forms W-2 for your employees before the January 31st deadline. Well, what if I told you that when you send in those forms, unless you’re aware of an under-publicized change to the insurance and tax laws that took place on January 1, 2014, you might be exposing yourself to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties? And what if I told you that even if reading this column makes you aware of the required change, there might not be anything you can do at this point to avoid these huge penalties, other than to hope for IRS leniency?   Piqued your interest, didn’t I.  Well, read on . . .

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Home renovator fined for lead removal

VACAVILLE — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fined a Vacaville-based contractor $51,000 for not complying with federal lead-paint rules when renovating four foreclosed homes.

The agency on Wednesday said Blue Mountain Air violated the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule by not obtaining an EPA certification for the company beforehand, using certified renovators — both subcontractor and their workers — and complying with other safety practices for handling such paint.

“Lead-based paint is the main source of lead poisoning for children, which can cause learning disabilities and behavior problems,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Pacific Southwest administrator. “EPA will take enforcement action against companies that operate without the training and certification needed to protect children, families and workers.”  Read More

Renters in Foreclosure: What Are Their Rights?

Federal law gives important rights to tenants whose landlords have lost their properties through foreclosure.

Renters and tenants are now being affected by foreclosures almost as often as homeowners. The financial downturn resulted in thousands -- no, make that millions -- of foreclosed homes. Most of the occupants are the homeowners themselves, who must scramble to find alternate housing with very little notice. They're being joined by scores of renters who discover, often with no warning, that their rented house or apartment is now owned by a bank, which wants them out.

Before President Obama signed the "Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009," most renters lost their leases upon foreclosure. But this legislation provided that leases would survive a foreclosure. The tenant could stay at least until the end of the lease, and month-to-month tenants would be entitled to 90 days' notice before having to move out (this notice period is longer than any state's non-foreclosure notice period, a real boon to tenants).  Read More
 

HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH)

Overview

The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program combines Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  VA provides these services for participating Veterans at VA medical centers (VAMCs) and community-based outreach clinics.

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