October 2013 Coach's Quiz
We’ve suggested eight rules on how to avoid fair housing claims based on familial status. 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. Good luck!
After contacting you by phone, a woman comes to your office to see an available one-bedroom unit. When she arrives, you’re surprised to see that she’s visibly pregnant. You know about frequent complaints the elderly couple living next door made about noise from the previous tenant’s children. To avoid similar complaints about a crying baby, you tell her that the unit is no longer available. Since she doesn’t have a child now, you couldn’t be accused of a fair housing violation. True or false?
A couple with two toddlers inquires about available two-bedroom units. There are three available—two on the ground floor and one on the fourth floor. There’s an obvious danger of children falling from balconies, so you don’t think they’d want the fourth-floor unit, but you could be accused of violating fair housing law if you tell them only about the two ground-floor units. True or false?
Most of your residents have lived there for many years. Most are single or couples whose children have grown. Since most of your residents are over 55, you are justified under the senior housing exemption to restrict occupancy to adults and to advertise the building as a “mature” community. True or false?
COACH’S ANSWERS & EXPLANATIONS
Correct answer: b
Reason: Rules #1 & #8 apply here:
Rule #1: Don’t Deny Housing to Households with Children
Rule #8: Don’t Discriminate Against Residents for Adding a Child to the Household
You could trigger a fair housing complaint for denying housing to the prospect by misrepresenting the availability of the unit because she’s expecting a child. The law banning discrimination based on familial status protects pregnant women in addition to families with children under 18.
Correct answer: a
Reason: Rule #6 applies here:
Rule #6: Don’t Engage in Unlawful Steering
Even if acting out of good intentions, you could be accused of violating the steering provisions, for example, by assuming that the family would be interested in only the ground-floor units. To avoid accusations of unlawful steering, you should tell them about all available units and let them decide where they’d prefer to live.
Correct answer: b
Reason: Rules #2 & #5 apply here:
Rule #2: Don’t Claim Senior Housing Exemption Unless You Qualify
Rule #5: Don’t Express Unlawful Preferences in Statements or Advertising
Even if most of your residents are 55 and older, your community wouldn’t qualify for the senior housing exemption unless you comply with all of the law’s technical requirements. Otherwise, your community could be accused of denying housing and discriminatory advertising based on familial status.
Example: In February 2013, a homeowners association and property managers for a Minnesota condominium agreed to pay more than $40,000 to settle allegations that they violated fair housing law by maintaining a policy that prohibited children from living in the building.
According to a condo owner’s complaint filed with HUD, the association told him and his wife that they were violating community rules by allowing their minor children to live with them for more than 30 days in a calendar year. Allegedly, the association levied fines against them and sued in an effort to keep the couple’s children from living with them.
The association allegedly admitted that it restricted children under 18, but claimed that it was a 55-and-older community and exempt from the familial status protections. HUD claimed that the association didn’t meet federal requirements to qualify as housing for older persons because the association failed to formally and routinely verify the ages of the complex’s residents. Without admitting liability, the community agreed to settle the case by paying the owner a $30,000 settlement along with $12,000 in attorney’s fees [Secretary, HUD v. 7000 Sandell Condominium Association, February 2013].
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|What NOT to Do When Dealing with Families with Children|