Retaliation In Housing
Section 818 of the Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to retaliate against anyone because a person has filed a discrimination complaint or has assisted someone with filing a discrimination complaint.
Under the Fair Housing Act, housing providers cannot:
- Intimidate any person because that person is engaging in activities designed to make other persons aware of, or encouraging such other persons to exercise, rights granted or protected by the Fair Housing laws.
- Threaten any employee or agent with dismissal or an adverse employment action, or take such adverse employment action, for any effort to assist any person in the exercise of their Fair Housing rights.
Some potential signs of retaliation could be:
- Failing to renew a lease because a person has filed a fair housing complaint
- Firing an employee who has assisted a tenant with a reasonable accommodation request
- Requiring that a medical provider be willing to testify in court about the nature of their client’s disability.
- Enforcing different terms and conditions for a tenant after they have filed a fair housing complaint.
- Ignoring maintenance requests from a tenant who previously filed a fair housing complaint
Timing is an important factor in establishing retaliation. As such, housing providers are encouraged to be thoughtful in their response and actions once they are made aware a tenant has filed a fair housing complaint. To avoid the perception of retaliation when other actions are necessary to address the tenant’s behavior or situation (i.e. breaking community rules, damage to the unit, etc.), housing providers should:
- Document all communication
- Ensure there is a legitimate business reason for any action that takes place after a fair housing complaint has been filed
- Follow standard policies and procedures applied to all tenants
Even if a housing provider believes the original complaint lacks merit, a housing provider cannot engage in activities that may be seen as threatening, intimidating or having a negative impact on the individual who has exercised their fair housing rights.
The work that provided the bases for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations continued in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.