Member Mark E. Hanna’s recent article, “Coverage and Defenses in Fair Housing Act Claims,” was published in the June 2017 issue of DRI’s magazine, For The Defense. As Mark notes in the article, “The FHA and the ADA regulations are broad enough to include apparently innocent actions, which can create liability without any discriminatory intent.” You will want to read the entire article, which you can access below, but among the points he addresses are:
- Can the Defendant Tender to an Insurance Carrier?
- The Defense Approach to a Claim Under the ADA Related to a Service Animal
- The Challenges Presented by Group Homes to Existing Municipal Zoning
Mark was the 2017 program chair for the DRI Civil Rights and Government Tort Liability Seminar and serves as chair of the DRI Governmental Liability Committee’s Land Use Specialized Litigation Group.
Coverage and Defenses in Fair Housing Act Claims
It is becoming all too common in the news: yet another apartment owner or municipality has paid out thousands or even millions of dollars to resolve a fair-housing complaint. The Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. §3601, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §12101, cover a vast array of housing and “places of public accommodation.” The FHA and the ADA make unlawful discriminatory conduct in both words and actions that limit the availability of housing or physical access to homes. The FHA bars discrimination based on race, color, national original, religion, sex, disability, or familial status in substantially all housing-related transactions. The agency regulations under the FHA and the ADA are broad enough to include apparently innocent actions, which can create liability even when there is no discriminatory intent. In Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, 135 S. Ct. 2507 (2015), the principle that the FHA prohibits unjustified policies that discriminate in practice, even if not motivated by the intent to harm a particular group, was reaffirmed and made clear. At its core, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that disparate-impact claims are cognizable under the FHA.