Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released final regulations related to quid pro quo and hostile environment housing claims under the Fair Housing Act. Some of the new regulations which go into effect on October 14, 2016 may impact your association. Below is a summary of those key provisions but feel free to read the entire new regulations yourself.
HUD went to great lengths to explain that the new regulations are not intended to expand existing liability nor create new claims but, rather, to create formalized standards for use in investigations and adjudication of claims. First, it is important to understand what the terms quid pro quo and hostile environment housing mean.
Quid Pro Quo – means “this for that” and relates to an unwelcome request or demand to engage in conduct where submission to the request or demand is made a condition of the “sale, rental or availability of a dwelling, the terms conditions or privileges of the sale or rental, or the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith…”
Hostile environment harassment – means unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to interfere with the availability, sale, rental or use or enjoyment of a dwelling, the terms, conditions or privileges of the sale or rental, or the provision or enjoyment of services or facilities in connection therewith…”
CAI’s Federal Legislative Action Committee submitted comments to the proposed new regulations which HUD addressed in the final regulations. Specifically you should be aware that:
- Not all resident disputes rise to the level of housing discrimination but associations should treat any allegation of discrimination very seriously regardless of the parties (owners, residents, managers, board members, committee members, vendors, etc.). But, generally, the conduct needs to be sufficiently severe or pervasive as to interfere as defined above.
- If you become aware of alleged discrimination the association should take reasonable actions within its authority (by governing documents or law) to stop, deter or minimize the discrimination.
- Associations may have liability for discriminatory actions of others, including employees, agents, and third parties, IF the association knew or should have known about the discrimination and has any authority over such person by governing documents or law.
Therefore, we recommend that all allegations of quid pro quo or hostile environment harassment be immediately discussed with your association counsel to discuss appropriate action under the regulations. And, further, we recommend that ever association adopt a policy regarding discrimination outlining what actions will be taken in the event allegations of discrimination occur. If you would like our assistance in drafting the same please contact one of our attorneys at 303.432.9999.