New HUD Final Rule updates Fair Housing Act
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended in 1988, is better known as the Fair Housing Act. This law guaranteed that all Americans, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, have the right to equal opportunity in the purchase or rental of housing. The Act is pretty clear on what type of practices are allowed and which are prohibited. However, as with any rule, regulation, or law, there is always room for interpretation.
HUD has been charged with the authority to interpret and enforce the Act. But over the years, several challenges have come before the Federal Court of Appeals and, more recently, before the Supreme Court. These higher-court decisions help to further define the standards used by HUD and our judicial system.
For example, it has been widely accepted by the courts that discrimination does not have to be intentional to violate the Fair Housing Act. A seemingly benign business practice that has an unjustified discriminatory effect is no less a violation of the Act than a blatant act of discrimination. But how do you show whether a business practice is justified or not?