Labor & Employment

Fair Housing Compliance and Defense

Meet the team

Locke Lord has extensive experience in defending and preventing fair housing disputes and in counseling multi-family communities on best practices regarding day to day accommodation and modification and other requests or claims under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as related federal, state and local civil rights laws, building codes, and ordinances.

Multi-family communities regularly call on our fair housing team for workable and cost effective solutions to even the most complex issues. Whether the current challenges involve unusual tenant accommodation or modification requests, building design or construction, advertising, policies, communications, assistance animals (service and emotional support animals), or other operational issues, we can provide practical experience and knowledge.

In jurisdictions nationwide, we have defended and resolved Housing and Urban Development administrative complaints and investigations, as well as those involving other federal and state and local agencies. Locke Lord regularly defends claims brought in demand letters, and single plaintiff and class action litigation initiated by private litigants.

Representative experience regarding non-dispute compliance issues:

  • Assisted national multi-family apartment communities in revamping accommodation and modification request policies (including those involving assistance animals, as well as related request and decision forms, to provide greater clarity and efficiency in the process.
  • Assisted several apartment community managers in responding to day to day requests for assistance animals and other accommodations.
  • Advised several institutions of higher learning regarding assistance animal requests involved in campus housing subject to fair housing compliance, as well as revising related policies and request procedures and forms.
  • Drafted detailed guidance and revised drawings from designers and contractors, to use in implementing accessibility solutions for sites in numerous states (including housing as well as retail and common area accessibility issues)
  • Advised potential buyers of housing community assets (including retail and restaurant space) regarding accessibility inspections and handling of noted deficiencies.
  • Served as tie-breaker housing accessibility expert to resolve dispute between experts retained by buyer and seller regarding alleged compliance deficiencies in assets to be purchased.
  • Analyzed legal proceedings and settlements regarding fair housing accessibility claims, and advised buyer regarding potential liability and most efficient solutions to noted issues.

Representative experience regarding compliance disputes

  • Represented several management companies and ownership groups in connection with numerous single claimant private fair housing claims at the HUD and applicable state agency administrative level, including administrative hearings.
  • Represented multi-family housing provider in federal lawsuit alleging discrimination based on transgender status.
  • Negotiated and resolved accessibility deficiencies noted in licensing and permit processes nationwide to obtain cost effective solutions and speedy approvals needed.
  • Defended a housing authority in litigation regarding alleged failures to make certain repairs to public housing units.
  • Represented several landlords in claims alleging discriminatory rental and evictions, and falsely denying that housing was available for inspection.
  • Defended numerous retailers and restaurant owners and managers regarding alleged race and disability discrimination in public accommodations (ADA Title III), including parking, design and construction as well as policy/accommodation/effective communication issues.
  • One of our attorneys has previously worked on fair housing matters on the tenant side, and brings a wealth of insight and experience from that prior role.