In the past few months, while many of the residents in our communities have escaped Florida's heat and humidity, our friends at the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development have been busy expanding the reach of Fair Housing protections.
Here are a few of HUD's more notable recent actions on the Fair Housing front:
- In April, HUD's Office of General Counsel published "guidance" making it more difficult for housing providers to justify denying a prospective owner or renter on the basis of that applicant's criminal record.
- On September 14, HUD issued its final rule on "Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment"--apparently creating new liabilities for a housing provider in certain situations for allowing a "hostile environment" to exist in the community to the detriment of a person who falls within one of the Fair Housing Act's "protected classifications".
- Just a few days after that final rule was issued, HUD apparently issued yet another decree--this time providing that persons who speak no or limited English are entitled to Fair Housing Act protections.
In other words, the rules of the Fair Housing game have changed over the summer. We're digesting HUD's activities and plan on focusing our next community association seminars on the challenges of keeping ROC's compliant with Fair Housing laws. In the meantime, board members and managers in resident owned communities would be well advised to consult with their legal counsel about any Fair Housing questions they may have.