Michigan Landlord Settles VAWA, Fair Housing Allegations

HUD recently announced that it has entered into a Conciliation Agreement with Michigan landlord resolving allegations that it denied housing to a woman because of her disability and status as a survivor under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The woman alleged that the landlord didn’t respond to her rental application due to her vision impairment and because she revealed a past tenancy was terminated due to experiencing dating violence and stalking.

The Fair Housing Acts makes it illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), familial status, and disability. Under VAWA, individuals living in covered housing programs can’t be denied housing, evicted, or lose assistance due to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. They also have the right to request an emergency transfer for safety reasons related to violence.

Under the terms of the agreement, the landlord will pay the applicant $8,500. The landlord will also take affirmative steps to ensure its policies, practices, and procedures comply with VAWA and the Fair Housing Act. The agreement further stipulates that the landlord will require all its staff to attend VAWA-related training.

“We have an ongoing commitment to enforcing rights enshrined under VAWA and the Fair Housing Act, ensuring equal access to housing for all,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today and every day, HUD is taking action to root out discrimination in housing, protecting survivors and their families. With this Agreement, housing providers are on notice that they must comply with the law.”

HUD’s new enforcement authority under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022, enhances housing protections for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking applying for and assisted under covered HUD housing programs and certain other federal housing and homeless assistance programs. VAWA 2022 authorizes HUD to enforce the law by the same process as the Fair Housing Act. VAWA 2022 ensures the right to call 9-1-1 without fear of losing housing or other repercussions, and it prohibits retaliation by housing providers for exercising VAWA rights or assisting others in doing so. These protections apply regardless of sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.