COACH's Pop Quiz!
Q: In a recent dispute over parking, a resident filed a fair housing claim, but you settled the case by giving her an assigned space as a reasonable accommodation. Soon after, she fell behind on her rent and hasn’t made a payment in two months. Could you face fair housing trouble if you initiate eviction proceedings against her?
A: Even with solid evidence that a resident has violated the lease or broken the rules, you run the risk of a retaliation claim any time you take action against a resident who has filed a fair housing complaint against you. Under the Fair Housing Act, it’s unlawful to retaliate against anyone who has exercised his or her rights under fair housing law, regardless of whether he or she had a legitimate fair housing claim in the first place.
Nevertheless, you don’t have to tolerate serious lease violations simply because the resident has filed a previous discrimination complaint against you. Before taking action, however, check with your attorney to make sure you can dispel any suggestion of retaliatory motives with evidence of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for your actions: the resident’s failure to pay rent.
To learn more, see the March 2015 issue of Fair Housing Coach, “Dos & Don’ts for Dealing with Residents Who Break the Rules,” available to subscribers here.