Representing Landlords Against Allegations of Fair Housing Violations
Connecticut landlords cannot select—or reject—tenants based on certain factors. The federal Fair Housing Act and Connecticut state law both prohibit discrimination against tenants or prospective tenants based on the following:
- Source of lawful income
- National origin
- Familial status
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity or Expression
Fair housing does not only address renting property to a particular tenant, but also to charging certain individuals greater rent or security deposits, having unfavorable lease terms for certain tenants, lease termination based on discrimination, harassment, and more. If tenants believe they have been the victims of any type of illegal discrimination by their landlords, they have the right to take legal action.
Many landlords who never have discriminatory intentions find themselves facing legal claims of discrimination. This could be due to misunderstandings or an applicant or tenant who is simply unhappy with a housing decision. No matter what the allegations include, findings of violations of fair housing laws can result in significant liabilities and penalties for landlords.
Every landlord should seek immediate legal assistance to defend against any existing allegations and prevent any in the future. For more information about Fair Housing compliance and litigation, please contact the Landlord Law Firm today and feel free to browse our catalog of hundreds of articles relevant to landlord rights and law.
Helping You Comply With Fair Housing Laws
First and foremost, every landlord should ensure full compliance with all fair housing laws to minimize the chances of a dispute with a tenant or applicant. In some cases, discriminatory actions are not outright, but instead involve management policies or procedures that have a disparate impact on applicants or tenants of a certain class. The Landlord Law Firm can thoroughly analyze your policies to determine whether any unintentionally violate fair housing laws. We can then help to facilitate changes in your policies and operations to help prevent any future violations.
In addition, every landlord must understand the finer points of fair housing laws. Violations include more than just outwardly denying certain individuals housing because of their race, religion, gender, or other protected factors. Lesser-known violations can include:
- Denying to certain inquiring individuals that a property is for rent
- Advertising for a preference of tenants with or without certain protected factors
- Steering members of a certain protected class into specific property locations
- Refusing to reasonably accommodate requests from individuals with disabilities regarding certain policies or services that allow the tenant to use the property
- Refusing to allow reasonable and necessary modifications to a property for the use of a disabled person (at the tenant’s expense)
As an example of the above, a landlord may not refuse to make an exception to a no-pets policy if a visually impaired tenant uses a guide dog. It is all too common for landlords to believe upholding such a policy is legal when, in reality, it can lead to a fair housing violation.
Fair housing organizations can send undercover agency employees to pose as potential renters to determine whether your policies violate the law. Even if they never intended to rent an apartment, you are subject to their fair housing claims and the potential negative consequences. If you have a question about a certain situation and your rights to act under the law, please discuss the specifics with the Landlord Law Firm as soon as possible. We are also here to help with a general evaluation of your fair housing practices to limit future liability.
Seek Assistance if a Fair Housing Claim Is Filed
A tenant who believes that a landlord has violated fair housing rights can file a complaint in civil court, with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), or with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Whether tenants take up the matter at the state or federal level, a landlord facing a claim must seek legal representation to defend against the allegations as soon as possible.
If you are found to have violated a fair housing provision, the penalties can include:
- Thousands of dollars in civil penalties—even for a first violation
- Compensatory and non-economic damages to the claimant
- An injunction, if deemed necessary, to stop future harm
- Punitive damages if the court believes the violation was willful or malicious
- Attorney’s fees for the claimant
Even if you are certain there is no basis for a fair housing claim, defending against allegations can take time and money before your name is cleared, and you never want to risk a wrongful decision against you. The sooner you seek legal help from a trusted landlord defense lawyer, the sooner we can begin building a strong defense to resolve the matter as efficiently as possible.
Defending against Fair Housing Allegations
Defending against fair housing claims can be complicated and can involve many different parties, including the Connecticut state courts, CHRO, HUD, or even the Department of Justice in certain serious situations. Our attorneys will represent you in any type of hearing involved in your case and will skillfully present all possible defenses against a claim.
Common defenses against discrimination claims include that your decisions or actions were justified based on other circumstances not involving protected factors. These can include credit checks, references, income requirements, or other legitimate business criteria. We will identify any possible defense in your specific case.
Discuss Your Situation with a Connecticut Fair Housing Lawyer as Soon as Possible
The legal team at the Landlord Law Firm is committed to protecting the rights and interests of landlords throughout Connecticut. We regularly help to develop policies and procedures that fully comply with all regulations, including federal and state fair housing laws. Should a claim arise against you, our attorneys will be there to help defend against frivolous allegations while saving you as many resources as possible. Please call our office for help at (203) 874-4747 or send us an email through our online contact form today.