Federal and state laws make it illegal to discriminate against an individual in the sale or rental of housing because of a disability; family status, gender; national origin; race; religion or color. It is also illegal for a landlord or homeowner’s association to deny a specific request for a reasonable accommodation for a disability. Other fair housing issues may include, but are not limited to:
- Predatory lending
- Collegiate housing issues
- Employment retaliation
The Fair Housing Act also protects employees who oppose housing discrimination or lending discrimination from employment retaliation like demotion or termination. Examples of employees who can have an employment retaliation claim under the FHA include, but are not limited to, apartment complex managers and mortgage brokers. In an addition to an FHA retaliation claim, an employee may also have other retaliation claims under other federal or state laws and should consult with an experienced attorney regarding the best way to proceed.
What damages are recoverable in a fair housing discrimination claim?
There are a variety of remedies available under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”). Actual damages are recoverable under the FHA, which includes monetary damage for alternative housing costs or financing costs. Actual damages also include damages for the humiliation and indignity caused by the discrimination. In addition, punitive damages are recoverable in some cases to deter the housing provider or lender from discriminating in the future and injunctive relief is available to stop a housing provider’s or lender’s discriminatory housing or lending practices. A successful plaintiff can recover attorney’s fees and costs as well.
Is there a deadline to pursue a fair housing discrimination claim?
Yes. Under the FHA, an individual has the option of either filing an administrative complaint or filing a lawsuit. If an individual wants to forego administrative proceedings, then the deadline to file an FHA claim in court is two years from the date of discrimination or retaliation. Alternatively, an individual can file an administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) and/or the equivalent state agency. In Florida, the state agency responsible for investigating FHA claims is the Florida Commission on Human Relations (“FCHR”). An administrative complaint must be filed with HUD or the FCHR within one year of the date of discrimination or retaliation. Filing an administrative complaint with HUD is not a requirement to filing a lawsuit in court under the FHA. However, if the individual chooses to file an administrative complaint first, then they have one year from the conclusion of the administrative proceedings to file a lawsuit in court. In short, FHA claims are subject to strict statutes of limitations. If you want to know the pros and cons of filing with HUD and/or the FCHR or going straight to court, we recommend that you schedule a consultation to understand the differences and determine what is the best route to take under your circumstances.
An employee who has an FHA claim does not have to file an administrative complaint with HUD or the FCHR before they file a lawsuit in court under the FHA. However, an employee could file an administrative complaint if they choose to do so. The same deadlines for filing a case in court or with HUD/ FCHR apply for employees as they do for homeowners and tenants.
How do I pursue a fair housing discrimination claim?
You can contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Florida Commission on Human Relations; and/or seek representation with an experienced fair housing attorney.
Fair Housing Services
Sass Law Firm’s fair housing attorneys represent homeowners and tenants who are requesting reasonable accommodations. In addition, our attorneys represent homeowners and tenants in administrative proceedings at HUD or the FCHR, in court, and at the appellate level in fair housing and fair lending discrimination claims.