Understanding Your Obligations Under The Fair Housing Act

One of the largest challenges faced by housing cooperatives is complying with the federal Fair Housing Act. Allegations of discriminatory practices can propel property owners into costly and time-consuming litigation. The lawyers at Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak, P.C., can minimize your potential exposure to a dispute and ensure compliance.

Below we answer common questions about the Fair Housing Act. Please read on to learn more and contact our firm with any additional questions.

What Are The Protected Classes?

Federal and Michigan and Illinois state laws protect specific groups of people against illegal housing discrimination. This provides all individuals with the opportunity to live in a home of their choosing and prevents unfair denial or mistreatment. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex or gender
  • Familial status
  • Disability

Various state laws provide additional protections against discrimination based upon:

  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Physical appearance, including weight and height

Failure to comply with these mandates can result in legal action against the housing cooperative.

Is My Member Selection Process Impartial?

To prevent discrimination and other civil rights violations, cooperatives should have a written member selection plan on file. This allows boards and property agents to deny an applicant, so long as the denial is based upon eligibility requirements applied to all applicants. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) outlines basic selection plan requirements, but you may include additional requirements specific to your property. To comply with HUD requirements, your plan must include information on:

  • Income limits or requirements
  • Any special population designations, such as senior and disabled living
  • Application and selection procedures, including screening procedures
  • Reasons for rejection
  • Occupancy standards and limitations

What Are Reasonable Modifications And Accommodations?

The Fair Housing Act requires housing cooperatives to make reasonable accommodations and modifications to properties to make them accessible for individuals with disabilities. These can include changes to the property, or exceptions or adjustments to a policy or service to allow a disabled person to live in a dwelling and enjoy common use spaces. A reasonable modification could include the installation of grab bars. A reasonable accommodation would be allowing a blind member to have a guide dog if the property had a no pet policy.

Counsel From A Leader In Cooperative Housing Law

To ensure your housing cooperative qualifies as an inclusive community, talk to a national leader in cooperative housing law. Reach us online or call our Wyandotte office at 734-407-7193 or our Chicago office at 773-435-9064 to arrange an appointment at either location.