WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 20, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a Conciliation Agreement with the city of Berlin, New Hampshire. The agreement settles allegations that the municipality violated the Fair Housing Act when it enacted an ordinance requiring landlords to evict tenants cited three or more times for “disorderly action,” including domestic violence incidents.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to evict an individual because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status.
“When landlords evict victims of domestic violence, they victimize those individuals a second time,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to educating cities about their obligation to uphold laws that protect fair housing rights.”
The agreement is the result of a complaint initiated under the authority of HUD Secretary Julián Castro alleging that the city of Berlin discriminated against women when it enacted an ordinance requiring landlords to evict tenants cited by police three or more times for “disorderly action” or risk being fined and/or losing their rental license. The ordinance made no exception for victims of domestic violence, which are overwhelmingly women and who needed police assistance.
Under the terms of the Conciliation Agreement, Berlin will amend its ordinance to include language stating that the “…ordinance is not intended to be used against victims of reported incidents of domestic violence.” The city will also modify its definition of “disorderly action” to state that “disorderly action” will not include the actions of victims of reported domestic violence incidents.
In addition, the city will post the Conciliation Agreement on its web site, host and publicize an activity to raise awareness of domestic violence, and provide fair housing training to the mayor, councilmembers, city manager, chief of police, and all other city employees who interact with victims of crime or abuse.
Federally funded housing providers also must comply with the Violence Against Women Act and HUD regulations that provide protection for victims of domestic violence.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed at www.hud.gov/fairhousing or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.