You Make the Call: Does the tenant have a legally valid claim for FHA discrimination?
Ruling: The Pennsylvania federal court rejects summary judgment for the landlord and allows the case to go to trial, citing well-established case law finding that the FHA does protect victims of domestic violence given its disproportionate impact on women and minorities [Butler v. Sundo Capital, LLC, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171736, 2021 WL 4134034].
Takeaway: There are three important morals to take from the Butler case:
- Domestic violence victims can sue for housing discrimination under the FHA (as well as many state laws, including Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin);
- Zero-tolerance policies that lump victims and purveyors of domestic violence together for adverse treatment is a form of discrimination the law prohibits; and
- Protection for domestic violence victims may include allowing them out of their lease early without penalty if they must move out to avoid threatened violence.