ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Housing Discrimination Must Be Intentional to Sue Property Owners

Updated on February 13, 2015

Property Owners Cannot Be Punished for Accidental Discrimination

Anyone accused of violating the Fair Housing Act must have intended to engage in discrimination before they can be sued successfully, a federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled recently.
The ruling limits the number of lawsuits that realtors, landlords and property sellers could face.
Until the court’s recent ruling, anyone whose housing policies had a discriminatory affect could be sued, even if the discrimination was accidental.
The U.S. District Court decision in a lawsuit filed by the American Insurance Association invalidates a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rule.
The rule said property owners could be fined or sued for any housing policies that have a “disparate impact” on minorities, the elderly, women and other protected groups. A “disparate impact” means the effect is different for one group compared with another in a way that discriminates between them.
The federal court said HUD overstepped its authority by interpreting the Fair Housing Act to mean it could forbid “disparate impact” discrimination.
Instead, HUD could only forbid “intentional” discrimination, the court said.
The Fair Housing Act, also known as the 1968 Civil Rights Act, and its amendments forbid:
— A refusal to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability or family status.
- Discrimination in the terms, conditions or privilege of the sale or rental of a dwelling.
- Advertising the sale or rental of a dwelling indicating preference or discrimination against protected groups of people.
The federal court said HUD’s rule that creates liability for property owners who do not intend to discriminate was “nothing less than an artful misinterpretation of Congress’ intent.”
“This is yet another example of an administrative agency trying desperately to write into law that which Congress never intended to sanction,” the court said.
The case is American Insurance Ass'n v. U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development, No. CV 13-00966 (RJL), 2014 WL 5802283 (D.D.C. Nov. 7, 2014).

Only property owners who intend unfair discrimination can be punished under the law.
Only property owners who intend unfair discrimination can be punished under the law.

Should property owners who unfairly discriminate in housing practices be punished under the law?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Tom Ramstack profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Ramstack 

      3 years ago from Washington, D.C.

      I agree. The only problem is that it creates a gray area about whether it's intentional or accidental discrimination that is difficult to determine with any certainty.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      3 years ago from USA

      I agree that the act should be based on intention rather than mishap. I hate to admit it, but sometimes people pull out the race card to be malicious, even when they know the landlord had no intension whatsoever of any racial act.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)