HUD recently issued a final rule implementing the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard as of March 15. In addition to establishing uniform standards for determining when a real estate practice or policy violates the act, this final rule effectively codifies HUD’s long-standing position that liability under the Fair Housing Act may be established under the “disparate impact” theory. This is when a business practice or policy statistically demonstrates a discriminatory effect, regardless of whether the discrimination was intentional.
Shortly after finalizing the rule, HUD also announced the rollout of a new housing discrimination mobile application that allows users to learn about fair housing laws and file discrimination complaints.
These developments indicate a stepped-up focus on fair housing issues at HUD as well as a likely ramp up of its enforcement on the issue. Apartment firms should review rental policies and practices for potentially having a disparate effect, especially in the areas of occupancy limitations, resident screening and Section 8 voucher policies.