Test Your Knowledge of Fair Housing Law

In this month’s Special Issue, the Coach gives you a chance to test your knowledge of fair housing law. The rules banning housing discrimination may seem straightforward, but the devil is in the details. Fair housing rules can be complicated, so the first step is to test your knowledge of fair housing basics under federal law—the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

In this month’s Special Issue, the Coach gives you a chance to test your knowledge of fair housing law. The rules banning housing discrimination may seem straightforward, but the devil is in the details. Fair housing rules can be complicated, so the first step is to test your knowledge of fair housing basics under federal law—the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Based on your answers, you’ll be able to identify any potential problem areas that might merit some further attention or training. If, for example, a number of your staff members get the same answers wrong, it may help you identify particular topics where further training may be needed. To avoid fair housing trouble, it’s important to ensure that your entire staff understands fair housing—and knows how to apply it in everyday dealings with the public.

Editor’s Note: To learn more on any particular areas of concern, visit our website, FairHousingCoach.com, where subscribers may search our archives and download past issues of Fair Housing Coach. You can also sign up for our free monthly Fair Housing e-Alerts to keep up with all the latest developments in fair housing law.

FAIR HOUSING TEST

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 test. Good luck!

QUESTION #1

Fair housing law prohibits communities from denying housing to anyone who’s a member of a protected class. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #2

Communities may be liable under federal fair housing law for housing practices that have a discriminatory effect based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability, even if there’s no intent to discriminate. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #3

As long as your community doesn’t discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status, you can’t be liable for a fair housing violation. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #4

In checking references on an application for a vacant unit, the community learns that an applicant has been evicted for failing to pay rent at his last two rentals. The community may deny the application based on its standard screening policy without violating fair housing law. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #5

If a resident violates the lease and you have solid grounds for eviction, you should give that resident a second chance if:

a.   The resident is a member of a protected class and you’re worried he’ll sue you for discrimination.

b.   You’re good friends with the resident and you want to give him a break.

c.   You give all your residents a second chance under similar circumstances.

QUESTION #6

A resident has repeatedly complained that his upstairs neighbor has been harassing him because of his race. If you ignore his complaints, the resident could sue your community for discrimination or harassment under fair housing law. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #7

An African-American couple visits the leasing office asking about available one-bedroom units. There are two units available, but the leasing agent shows the couple only one. She doesn’t mention the other unit because she has heard the resident in the neighboring unit making racially insensitive comments. Since she’s trying to protect the couple from racial discrimination, her actions wouldn’t violate fair housing law. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #8

A white resident may pursue a fair housing claim if the community, its staff, or others harass or discriminate against her because her boyfriend is African American. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #9

A community could be accused of discrimination just from the way it handles phone calls or emails from prospects. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #10

During a tour, an Hispanic prospect asks about whether there are many Hispanic residents at your community. Should you answer the question?

a.   Yes, because the prospect is a member of the same protected class.

b.   Yes, because you didn’t bring up the subject—he did.

c.   No, because you could invite fair housing trouble if you answer the question.

QUESTION #11

You know that it’s unlawful to refuse to rent to people from other countries, but you could also face a fair housing complaint for refusing rent to applicants who can’t speak English. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False. 

QUESTION #12

Despite complaints about strong cooking odors in the hallway, you could trigger a fair housing complaint by banning the use of curry or other strong spices in the building. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #13

A one-bedroom unit just became available in your community, which rents to people of all ages. The unit is small and doesn’t have much closet space, so you may advertise the unit as:

a.   “No children.”

b.   “Perfect for singles!”

c.   “Cozy one-bedroom close to town square.”

QUESTION #14

A prospect responded to an online ad for a small studio unit. When she arrives for the showing, it’s apparent that she’s in the late stages of pregnancy. You believe that the unit is too small for two people, but you should offer to show her the unit to avoid a discrimination claim based on familial status. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #15

A community may not be found liable for housing discrimination for applying occupancy standards limiting all units to two people per bedroom. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #16

If a prospect with children only wants to see vacant units that are close to your community’s pool, you must still tell her about all vacancies to avoid a fair housing violation. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #17

You’ve received a number of complaints about noisy children playing outside. Because you have a good reason to curb their behavior, enforcing a rule requiring adult supervision for all outdoor activities of children under 12 wouldn’t violate fair housing law. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #18

Only women can bring claims of sex discrimination under federal fair housing law. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #19

There have been rumors about a staff member pressuring female residents for “dates” in return for favors, such as giving them a break on late rent payments. Although no one has complained, the community should investigate whether the staff member has engaged in sexual harassment. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #20

Saying “Merry Christmas” and posting pictures of Santa Claus in your common areas don't violate fair housing law. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #21

The federal ban on housing discrimination based on religion applies only to members of established religions. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #22

Under fair housing law, you must consider requests for reasonable accommodations even if the resident doesn’t appear to have a disability. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #23

If a reasonable accommodation request comes from a resident without an apparent disability, then you can require documentation from his treating physician to verify that he has a disability. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #24

Your community has a no-pets policy. Recently, you discovered that a resident has a cat in her unit, but she insists that she’s disabled and it’s an emotional support animal. It seems like she’s just trying to keep her pet cat, so you can enforce the lease to require her to remove the animal. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #25

Your community allows residents to keep pets in their units as long as they pay pet deposits. A resident who’s blind wants to keep a guide dog in his unit as a service animal. Would you violate fair housing law by charging the resident a pet deposit for his dog?

a.   No, because if you offer one resident special treatment, then you’ll have to offer it to everyone.

b.   No, if you reduce the amount of the pet fee because the dog is a service animal.

c.   Yes, because the dog isn’t a pet. The resident needs the dog as a service animal for his disability.

QUESTION #26

Your community has a policy of providing unassigned parking spaces to residents on a first-come, first-served basis. One of your residents, who uses a cane to walk, asks for you to assign her an accessible parking space close to the entrance to her unit. Since there are unassigned accessible parking spaces near the entrance to her unit, you don’t have to grant her request. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #27

A resident has a mobility impairment that substantially limits his ability to walk. He asks you to drive him to the grocery store and help him with his shopping as a disability-related reasonable accommodation. You don’t provide any transportation or shopping services to your residents, so you may deny the request. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #28

An applicant who uses a motorized scooter due to a mobility impairment wants to rent a ground-floor unit, but he says he needs a ramp to the building entrance. You should grant his request to build the ramp at his expense as a reasonable modification, if he provides the necessary documentation and assurances about the proposed ramp. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #29

Several years ago, a resident filed a fair housing complaint against your community, but the case was dismissed. Lately, she has repeatedly failed to pay her rent in full or on time, but you can’t evict her because of her prior discrimination complaint. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.

QUESTION #30

You don’t have to keep records of every prospect who visits your community, only those who file an application. True or false?

a.   True.

b.   False.