New Rules for Housing

New fair-housing guidance for property managers and landlords

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Smiling real estate agent holding a clipboard faces a man with his arm around a woman.

01/23/2017 | Author: Editorial Staff

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently published a regulation and guidance under the Fair Housing Act that affects property management and leasing activities.

Landlords must take action against harassment.

A new rule effective Oct. 14, 2016, “Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices under the Fair Housing Act,” specifies how HUD will evaluate claims of hostile environment harassment and quid pro quo (“this for that”) harassment in housing. The rule may impose liability on landlords or property managers in situations where they know or should have known that a resident is being harassed, and don’t take prompt action to end the harassment when they had the power to do so.

Landlords should be careful when dealing with tenants in violation of 911 nuisance laws.

HUD issued “Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Enforcement of Local Nuisance and Crime-Free Housing Ordinances Against Victims of Domestic Violence, Other Crime Victims, and Others Who Require Police or Emergency Services.” This guidance addresses ordinances that may penalize residents for repeated emergency calls to police, even when a person is in need of protection from domestic violence or another crime. These “nuisance” or “crime-free lease” ordinances often require or allow landlords to evict residents in such circumstances, thereby discouraging victims from reporting domestic abuse or other crimes and obtaining the emergency police and medical assistance they need. Such local ordinances may violate fair-housing laws. In addition, under Texas Property Code §92.015, a landlord may not prohibit or otherwise penalize a tenant for summoning police or other emergency assistance in response to family violence.

Landlords should work with potential tenants who have trouble with English.

HUD also issued guidance that states that property managers and landlords are prohibited from using limited English proficiency selectively or as an excuse for intentional housing discrimination—for example, applying a language-related requirement to people of certain races or nationalities. Housing providers might consider allowing applicants and residents to have documents translated or letting them bring interpreters to meetings. Note that the Texas Association of REALTORS® provides members with Spanish translations of its Residential Lease (TAR 2001) and Residential Lease Application (TAR 2003) forms as a resource.

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