January 2010 Coach's Quiz
We have given you six rules on responding to domestic violence in your community. Now let's look at how the rules might apply in the real world. Take the COACH'S Quiz to see what you have 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.
And this month, there's an extra credit assignment: Judge for Yourself, a description of an actual court case. Test yourself on whether you think the community should be held liable, and then check the summary of the court's ruling to see how much you have learned.
The correct answers (with explanations) follow the quiz. Good luck!
While screening an applicant, you learn about frequent complaints and calls to police about domestic disturbances involving the resident and her former boyfriend at her prior residence. Because you are concerned about the safety and welfare of your current residents, you cannot be held liable for denying the application based on her poor rental history. True or false?
A resident and her boyfriend lease a one-bedroom unit in your community. One day, she tells you that she is a victim of domestic violence and gives you a copy of a restraining order. If she asks you to change her locks and not to give her boyfriend the new keys to the unit, what should you do?
Deny the request, because he has just as much right to the unit as she does.
Grant the request, because you have an obligation to protect her safety.
Contact your attorney for legal advice.
EXTRA CREDIT: JUDGE FOR YOURSELF
Your community receives a request from a resident to make an exception to your transfer policy due to alleged domestic violence involving a man who lives nearby, though not in your community.
The resident explains that the boyfriend became abusive a few months after they started dating, and that she broke up with him when the abuse escalated. A few weeks later, the boyfriend forced his way into her unit and severely beat her, causing serious injuries and damage to her unit. Since then, she and her children have been living with friends and family, and they are afraid to return because the boyfriend had threatened to come back and kill her. She contacts you, asking for a transfer to a unit in another building, away from the boyfriend.
Under your community's policy, transfers are allowed only in cases of federal hate crimes—those motivated by the victim's race, color, religion, or national origin—or extreme harassment. You frequently receive requests for transfers for a variety of reasons, including criminal activity, and you do not make exceptions to allow transfers to other crime victims or witnesses to crime.
Are you required to grant the resident's request?
Coach's Answers & Explanations
Correct answer: b
Reason: Rules #2, #3, and #4 and apply here:
Rule #2: Comply with VAWA, if Applicable
Rule #3: Check Applicable State and Local Laws
Rule #4: Review Policies to Prevent Discrimination Claims
If you exclude the applicant based on her past history of domestic violence, you risk liability under federal fair housing law for discrimination on the basis of sex. In addition, depending on the nature of your community and where it is located, you could be accused of violating the VAWA or state laws banning discrimination against victims of domestic violence.
Correct answer: c
Reason: Rules #3 and #5 apply here:
Rule #3: Check Applicable State and Local Laws
Rule #5: Address Domestic Violence Victims' Safety Concerns
Ask your attorney about how to handle the resident's request. The laws in your state or local area may require you to change locks for domestic violence victims, even if the alleged abuser is also a party to the lease.
Wrong answers explained:
In some states, you are required to change the locks and refuse to give the key to an alleged perpetrator of domestic violence, even if he is a party to the lease.
If not subject to state laws requiring you to comply with the request, you could be liable for a lease violation if you deny access to a party to a lease—even if he is accused of domestic violence.
ANSWER: JUDGE FOR YOURSELF
No, although perhaps you should, according to a 2008 ruling by a federal judge who refused to order a public housing authority to transfer the resident.
The judge ruled that the VAWA did not require the housing authority to grant the resident's transfer request. The VAWA requires public housing agencies to use leases that do not terminate tenancy or occupancy rights of domestic violence victims. The judge said that the housing authority did just that—it did not penalize a resident for being a victim of domestic violence. But the judge said that it was not the housing authority's responsibility to insure its residents against potential harm by third parties over which it had no control.
The judge also ruled that denying the transfer request did not violate the FHA, distinguishing other cases in which courts were convinced that policies to evict the victim following a domestic violence incident may violate the FHA. The judge explained that the reasoning behind those cases was that the eviction policies deprived women—who were disproportionately affected by domestic violence, and therefore by the eviction policies—of housing on the basis of sex. In contrast, the judge said that the denial of the transfer request in this case did not deprive the resident of housing because she had not been evicted—she was free to return to her home.
Although he was “not insensitive” to the resident's situation and the turmoil she has faced due to the violent acts by her former boyfriend, the judge concluded that the law did not require the housing authority to grant her a transfer on the basis of a threat of future domestic violence.
Nevertheless, the judge encouraged the housing authority to consider changing its policy to allow for transfers for domestic violence victims, when possible, to assist the resident in these circumstances. The judge also suggested reconsideration of policies regarding transfers for witnesses of crime for their protection from an alleged perpetrator [Robinson v. Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, April 2008].
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|How To Respond Properly To Domestic Violence|