October 2010 Coach's Quiz

We have given you five rules on how to comply with fair housing laws when handling smoking at 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.

We have given you five rules on how to comply with fair housing laws when handling smoking at 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!

QUESTION #1

Communities may regulate smoking in common areas, but they could face liability under fair housing law if they adopt policies to ban smoking inside individual units. True or false?

  1. True.

  2. False.

QUESTION #2

The Fair Housing Act does not require communities to restrict smoking, so a community may not be liable for a fair housing violation for a resident's exposure to secondhand smoke. True or false?

  1. True.

  2. False.

EXTRA CREDIT: JUDGE FOR YOURSELF

A resident who moved into a two-bedroom townhouse in late 2005 had a variety of health problems, including knee problems, which caused her to stop working in early 2005. In December 2005, she asked for a transfer to a ground-floor unit because her knee problems impaired her ability to walk and climb stairs. According to the resident, she was told none were available so she was placed on a “mandatory move list,” which would allow her to move to a unit she could afford. Allegedly, she did not offer documentation from a health care provider at the time of her request, but she later provided some medical documentation from her failed efforts to obtain Social Security Disability benefits.

Meanwhile, the resident encountered financial difficulties, which caused her to fall behind on rent payments and triggered her request for a Section 8 housing voucher. There was a delay in the issuance of the voucher—and the community sent her a demand for possession of the premises in late 2006. In response, the resident complained that she had been passed over for an available one-bedroom unit that would have met her needs, but had been rented to someone else.

In early 2007, the resident said she filed a second accommodation request—this time for an air-conditioned ground-floor unit that was not around smoking or other chemicals. Allegedly, she produced medical documentation of a newly diagnosed lung problem that caused shortness of breath and oxygen dependency, which her doctor said required her to live in a smoke-free environment that was air conditioned and did not expose her to chemicals. She claimed that she was offered a one-bedroom unit, but rejected it because it was not smoke-free or air conditioned.

A short time later, HUD officials allegedly granted her a temporary waiver to its Section 8 requirements to allow her to remain in her two-bedroom unit until a suitable one-bedroom unit became available.

The resident sued the community and its management company for violating federal and state fair housing laws by refusing or ignoring her repeated requests to accommodate her disabilities.

The community asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the resident did not qualify for protection as an individual with a disability, that both requests for accommodations were inadequate, and that the HUD waiver operated as a settlement of her fair housing claims.

How did the court rule?