February 2014 Coach's Quiz
We’ve suggested four rules on how to comply with legal requirements when dealing with domestic violence. Now let’s look at how the rules might apply in the real world. Take the COACH’s Quiz to see what you’ve learned.
INSTRUCTIONS: Each of the following questions has only one correct answer. On a separate piece of paper, write down the number of each question, followed by the answer you think is correct—for example, (1) b, (2) a, and so on. The correct answers (with explanations) follow the quiz.
And this month, there’s an extra credit assignment: Judge for Yourself, a description of an actual fair housing case. Test yourself on whether you think the community could face a fair housing problem, and then check the summary to see how much you’ve learned.
A victim of domestic violence could pursue a discrimination complaint under federal fair housing law. True or false?
Depending on where your community is located, you may be required to change locks or permit an early termination of the lease upon request by victims of domestic violence. True or false?
Extra Credit: Judge for Yourself
While living in a public housing complex in 2006 and 2007, a resident was allegedly subjected to extensive abuse by the father of her children. Though he didn’t live there, she said he repeatedly forced his way in, physically abused her, damaged property, and disturbed her neighbors. Several times, police were called. Ultimately, he was arrested, convicted, and sent to prison.
The resident claimed that in response to these events, the community’s managers and security staff were slow to respond to her calls for help, inadequately investigated neighbors’ complaints about her, and created inaccurate electronic records that blamed her for the incidents. According to the resident, the manager refused to protect her from continued abuse and threatened to evict her if she didn’t move out voluntarily. The resident claimed that she was afraid of losing her access to public housing, so she agreed to move out if she received preferential placement on the waiting list for a housing subsidy. Since no subsidies were available, she said she lived there for a couple of months before being forced to leave. When she left, she said the unit was in good condition, though the housing authority required her to pay for damages caused by her abuser out of the security deposit.
A few weeks later, the resident received a housing voucher and filed applications at two communities managed by the same company. Initially receiving no response, she said that she was subjected to months of delaying tactics before ultimately having her application denied for “poor landlord reference.” Allegedly, it was based on a landlord-reference form from her former landlord, the public housing authority, saying that she had damaged the unit, menaced her neighbors, possessed weapons and drugs in the unit, and committed other misconduct, leading to her eviction.
Despite efforts to clear her name, the resident claimed that the public housing authority’s negative reference continued to cause other communities to deny her housing. Though the state fair housing commission found no probable cause for a discrimination complaint, she sued, accusing the public housing authority and the property managers who denied her application of discrimination on the basis of sex and race under federal fair housing law.
The defendants asked the court to dismiss the complaint.
What did the court decide?
COACH’S ANSWERS & EXPLANATIONS
Correct answer: a
Reason: Rules #1 & #2 apply here:
Rule #1: Don’t Punish Victims of Domestic Violence for Acts of Abusers
Rule #2: Don’t Punish Domestic Violence Victims for Seeking Emergency Assistance
Though the FHA doesn’t specifically cover domestic violence victims, HUD says that domestic violence survivors may pursue federal fair housing claims in some cases. Based on statistics showing that women are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic violence, HUD says that domestic violence survivors who are denied housing or evicted based on the violence in their homes may be entitled to protection under the FHA provisions banning sex discrimination.
Correct answer: a
Reason: Rule #3 applies here:
Rule #3: Comply with State and Local Laws Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence
Many states have enacted specific provisions in landlord-tenant laws to protect victims of domestic violence in rental housing, such as rules allowing victims to change locks or obtain an early lease termination.
Answer: Judge for Yourself
In September 2013, the federal court in Ohio refused to dismiss fair housing claims for race and sex discrimination.
The court ruled that the resident could pursue her claim against the housing authority for sex discrimination related to her status as a victim of domestic violence. Her complaint alleged a pattern of discrimination spanning several years during which her abuser forced himself into her unit and physically assaulted her. In response, she claimed that the community failed to adequately investigate, and instead created permanent electronic records that inaccurately blamed her, preventing her from getting new housing. Moreover, she alleged that the community knew—or should have known—that she was the victim of domestic violence, suggesting that it acted with an intent to discriminate on the basis of gender.
The court also refused to dismiss her race discrimination claim against the property managers who allegedly misdirected, misinformed, lied to, and ultimately denied her applications for housing. According to the resident, one of the property managers made discriminatory statements about the resident and “her people,” which could suggest discriminatory motives for how they treated her [Dickenson v. Zanesville Metropolitan Housing Authority, September 2013].
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|How to Ensure Legal Compliance When Dealing with Domestic Violence|