Housing & Access Discrimination Defense Attorneys
The Fair Housing Act ("FHA") and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") cover a broad spectrum of housing and "places of public accommodation." The FHA and ADA, taken together, prohibit discriminatory conduct in both words and actions that limits the availability of housing opportunity or physical access to homes or places of business. Property owners, landlords, property managers, lenders, brokers, builders, architects, and real estate agents are all subject to the provisions of these acts. The agency regulations promulgated under the acts can create considerable liability risk, even for seemingly innocent behavior. In other words, discrimination claims can arise even when one has no discriminatory intent.
In addition to government agency oversight and enforcement (initiated, for example, by HUD), these acts permit "testing" by individuals and organizations to ascertain whether there is compliance with the letter and spirit of the law. "Testers" are permitted to pose as prospective purchasers, tenants, customers, etc. who have physical disabilities or are members of protected classes based upon such things as race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, etc. If, in the view of the tester, the housing provider, business owner, or its representatives exhibit discriminatory actions, words, or conduct, the tester is permitted to not only seek agency enforcement but also to file private civil suit. In recent years, there has been considerable "tester" activity and related litigation throughout Idaho, including hundreds of complaints lodged with HUD and dozens of civil suits filed by fair housing advocates and advocacy organizations. Defending these discrimination claims and suits is very complicated, time consuming, and expensive.
The attorneys at Ramsden, Marfice, Ealy & Harris have experience in the defense of housing and public accommodation discrimination claims, whether initiated by regulatory agencies or private litigants. We are able to wade through the morass of often ambiguous and conflicting state and federal regulations, policy statements, and statutes to assess the merits and viability of a discrimination claim and formulate an appropriate defense or resolution strategy.