In the midst of Fair Housing Month, HUD says it has reached an agreement with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development over the failure to provide outreach to people with limited English proficiency.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. This includes a requirement to ensure that programs and activities can be accessed by persons with limited English proficiency, in order to avoid discrimination based on national origin.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Nebraska’s Hispanic population with limited English proficiency increased 77 percent between 2000 and 2010. In addition, the state is also experiencing growing populations of persons of Sudanese and Somali origin.

HUD reviewed the Nebraska DED’s operations for compliance with civil rights requirements and found that it had failed to comply with its LEP obligations under Title VI.

Between 2008-2010, the state of Nebraska administered more than $54.5 million in HUD funding. HUD’s review found that the state made no effort to provide access for limited proficiency residents to any HUD-funded programs, nor did it translate program documents, provide translation or interpretation services, or conduct any analyses to identify the needs of eligible non-English speaking persons. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 04.14.2014

 Each April, HUD observes Fair Housing Month, in honor of the 1968 Fair Housing Act that prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status.

This year, HUD is encouraging rental applicants and tenants to exercise their rights under the Act.

In addition to the legal protections provided under the Fair Housing Act prohibiting housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status, approximately 20 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 150 cities, towns and counties across the nation also prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and families.

In 2012, HUD published new regulations to ensure that the Department’s core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 04.03.2014

 New York City lawmakers have proposed a measure that would require building owners to provide access to amenities to all renters, including those paying less than market value.

The language of the bill is simple: all tenants must have equal access to common spaces and amenities in buildings or complexes where common spaces or amenities exist.

An owner found in violation could be subject to fines up to $25,000.

The bill is aimed at the practice of providing premium services to tenants at market rent to the exclusion of those rent-stabilized tenants paying far below that rate. In some cases, buildings have separate entrances, and rent-stabilized tenants cannot access elevators that lead to certain amenities.

Proponents said in a news report that many tenants have complained about being blocked from such features as pools, rooftop decks and on-site gyms, which are offered exclusively to market rate tenants. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 03.17.2014

Running a criminal background check on every adult rental applicant under serious consideration is a must-do for any landlord who wants to protect profits.

Failure to run a criminal check can increase landlord liability, especially if the new tenant hurts others, and increases the chances that an applicant will become a problem tenant.

On the other hand, having a strict crime policy can attract good tenants who place safety at the top of their apartment-hunting wishlist.

To get the most out of your criminal background checks, it’s important to keep these tips in mind:

1. Criminal reports, unlike credit reports, usually are not indexed using specific identifying information like the applicant’s Social Security number. That means you will need to rely on other information to link possible criminal reports to your applicant. Your rental application should include the date of birth, the party’s full legal name and any alias names, as well as previous addresses. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 02.27.2014

It’s often necessary to draft a list of rules and regulations for tenants to be used in conjunction with the lease agreement, especially in multi-unit rentals.

Otherwise, landlords and tenants are left to sort out the day-to-day management issues without any written standards. That can lead to conflicts, and claims of harassment or discrimination.

While the rules sheet is usually incorporated into the lease agreement, landlords who use a separate set of tenant rules often will reserve the right to change those rules from time to time. This is usually done by making a revised list, and then demanding tenants sign the new one.

But can a landlord change the rules mid-lease? Not surprisingly, the answer depends on the rule that is being changed.

The lease agreement is a contract, a bargained-for exchange where each side gets some things, but gives up some things in return. So, in order to determine whether a rule can be changed mid-lease, you need to decide whether the new rule changes the terms and conditions of the bargained-for rental agreement.

That means anything that materially changes the way the tenant lives day-to-day, or costs the tenant more money, may not be subject to change via the house rules.

The rules are a place for logistics, like acceptable conduct in common areas, a prohibition against leaving laundry unattended, or where to place the trash. The term ‘rules’ is a misnomer; they’re more like guidelines than actual rules. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 02.17.2014

helping handsA housing authority in Indiana, along with the city of Hammond, have agreed to pay $200,000 to settle allegations that an employee was wrongfully discharged for her success in integrating minorities into predominantly white neighborhoods.

After being fired from her job administering a housing voucher program, the woman filed a claim with HUD alleging she was wrongfully terminated because she assisted persons using vouchers to find housing in the Hammond neighborhood of their choice. She further alleged that the mayor of Hammond made public statements supporting her ouster, claiming that the voucher program had grown “out of control” and “exploded” during her tenure.

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to retaliate against a person for supporting the housing rights of others. In addition, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 02.03.2014

New eBook Makes Discrimination Training Even More Convenient and Affordable

 Fair Housing Helper is pleased to announce the launch of the eBook version of Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals, its popular compliance product aimed at helping landlords, property managers, leasing agents, and staff comply with the Fair Housing Act and related housing discrimination laws.

At $9.99, the new Kindle eBook edition is 50% less than the paperback, and thousands of dollars less than a Fair Housing lawsuit. The price is even lower when purchased with the paperback version.

Kirkus Reviews has called Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals a “useful, easy-to-read guide for those who want to learn more about complying with U.S. fair housing law,” noting that the “book offers plenty of good advice in plain English” and the “quiz format makes learning the law fun and easy to digest.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 01.23.2014

 Spanish-speaking immigrant tenants in nearly 1,800 apartments throughout New York City are set to receive compensation for what officials have called intimidation and harassment by their landlord.

Governor Cuomo’s office touted the major settlement agreement between the state’s Tenant Protection Unit and the landlord and management company saying that it will help make communities “more just and affordable.”

The unprecedented agreement includes monitoring of the landlord’s practices for up to three years, the establishment of a fund to compensate mistreated tenants, the return of tenants previously ousted, and a requirement that all future communication between landlord and tenants be conducted in both English and Spanish. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 01.16.2014

 The Justice Department announced that it has settled a housing discrimination lawsuit for $317,000.

The case was filed against an Euless, Texas landlord accused of discriminating against persons of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent.

Under the agreement, the landlord will pay $107,000 in civil penalties and $210,000 in a damages fund to compensate victims.

According to the complaint, violations had continued for several years, and involved the owners, employees and management company for the apartment complex.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 01.13.2014

 Long-term tenants at an apartment complex in Concord, California have filed a lawsuit against their landlord for discrimination against families with children.

The complaint alleges that the former manager yelled at children who were playing in common areas and told tenants that the landlord intended to evict families with many children.

Eights tenants filed the lawsuit seeking monetary damages, including punitive damages, and an injunction. The filing follows a complaint brought last month by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing against the landlord. With the help of the advocacy group Tenants Together, the tenants initially filed an administrative complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing against the management of the complex for discriminating against families with children. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: Kim on 01.02.2014
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