The Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD has issued a policy to address housing discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic

The policy reiterates the Fair Housing Act’s protections against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, and it also extends those protections to individuals with limited English proficiency. Additionally, the policy specifies that landlords must provide reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities who face limitations on their ability to access services or participate in activities due to the pandemic.

The policy provides guidance for landlords on how to comply with fair housing laws in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, landlords may not refuse to rent to an applicant due to their ethnicity, race, or national origin, and they must also be mindful of any discriminatory language or comments they make when advertising a rental unit. The policy also states that landlords cannot prohibit tenants from participating in public assistance programs, such as Section 8, and must not require applicants to disclose their immigration status.

In addition to offering guidance on fair housing laws, the policy also outlines actions that HUD will take to enforce these laws. If HUD discovers a violation of any of these laws, it will issue a complaint and investigate. If a violation is found, HUD may seek injunctive relief, civil penalties, or compensatory damages, depending on the severity of the offense.

In order to further protect against housing discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD encourages property owners and managers to review their current policies and practices to ensure that they are in compliance with all applicable fair housing laws. HUD also urges landlords to communicate with their tenants about their rights and the importance of practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and following other safety protocols.

This policy issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Developments (HUD) is an important step in addressing housing discrimination in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It serves to emphasize the existing protections of the Fair Housing Act while making it clear that such discrimination is a violation of the law. The policy also outlines specific guidance for landlords on how to ensure that their policies and practices are compliant with fair housing laws, as well as what actions HUD remains committed to take if any violations are found. By providing clear direction on how to comply with fair housing laws and the enforcement measures that will be taken if any violations are discovered, HUD is making sure that all people have access to safe, fair, and affordable housing during this difficult time.

This article was contributed on Nov 14, 2023