Fair Housing

Conducting Criminal Background Checks: Further FAQs & Follow-up

 This is the first of four articles on the legal and practical considerations for housing providers when developing a criminal history screening policy.  This is a BIG fair housing issue and one that produces a lot of phone calls to the MHCO Office.

It is very important for all housing providers to review and consider whether your current criminal screening policy should be revised to avoid a successful challenge in a fair housing case based on its disparate impact on minority applicants. “There are fair housing advocacy agencies that are actively searching for companies with simplistic and generalized criminal history policies to challenge. We don’t want your companies to be those test cases,” she said.

In this series of articles, the Coach presents highlights, along with FAQs about complying with fair housing law when screening applicants based on criminal history.

 

A Disability-Related Companion Dog?

 

The Facts:

• Your community has a no-pets policy, but a maintenance worker reports that a resident has a pet dog in her unit. 

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When questioned, she says she’s disabled and the dog is her companion animal but refuses to provide documentation that she has a disability-related need to keep the dog. 

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Soon after informing her that she must remove the dog, you receive notice that she filed a HUD complaint, accusing your community of disability discrimination. 

 

Phil Querin Q&A: “Assistance” Animals – When Do They Become A Ruse?

 

Question:  Our community is having more and more residents who are trying to bring in dogs or other animals as “assistance” or “service” to get around signing the Pet Agreement or paying pet fees. We also have some that bring in pets that are under the weight limit as puppies, but not as adults. What can be done? And what about those breeds of dogs that have a reputation for being vicious, that residents claim are for their emotional support? Do we, as landlords, have any recourse to require residents to get rid of their animals, as they are abusing the system to circumvent our size requirements?

 

Phil Querin Q&A: Temporary Occupant and Fair Housing Accommodation

 

Question:  A tenant has asked for her daughter to be on a temporary occupant agreement.  The tenant has recently been in the hospital and has returned home.  She has not said she needs a caregiver at this point in time.  The daughter is 40 years old and has three large dogs.   She has applied to be a temporary occupant and has said that she will bring her dogs and if the park says ‘no’ she will get her attorney.  Does the temporary occupant have rights? The park has a small dog policy - her dogs are clearly in violation. At this point there has been no mention of disability or request for reasonable accommodation.  What are the landlord’s rights?  We suspect that the tenant will eventually say she needs at caregiver and hence the need for her daughter.  At that point, once she has said “disability” or “caregiver” what are the landlord’s rights? Can he say no to the daughter in both circumstances or only in first before the word “disability” or “caregiver” is mentioned?

 

 

 

Ten Things Every Landlord Should Know About Fair Housing

 

 

Sounds pretty simple if there are just 10 things to advise Landlords about with regard to fair housing law. Unfortunately there are more than just the 10 items listed in this article. However, these 10 are an excellent start, and knowing about fair housing will help lead to understanding what should and should not be done when renting property. Understanding fair housing is the best protection against a claim that a fair housing law has been violated. If you are an attorney advising a landlord on what to watch out for, the following items are a good start.

 

MHCO Article: Fair Housing Laws Apply When Selling or Renting!

Both state and federal law prohibit discrimination in the selling, renting or leasing of real property.  Federal fair housing laws have been in place since 1968.  Federal law makes it illegal to discriminate in the sale, purchase or lease of property on account of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or handicap and sexual orientation.