HUD Expands Fair Housing Liability to Include LEP Discrimination
HUD recently issued new guidance confirming that persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). LEP includes a limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English. The guidance reasons that LEP persons are covered by the FHA because of their close nexus with the protected class of national origin.
The new guidance confirms that discrimination against LEP persons may include intentional discrimination or disparate impact, the latter of which involves facially neutral policies that have a discriminatory effect. Examples of prohibited or potentially discriminatory practices include:
- Refusing to rent to or to renew a lease for a person who speaks a certain language, but renting to those who speak another language;
- Refusing to allow translation of housing-related documents, such as leases or mortgages;
- Restricting a renter’s use of an interpreter;
- Applying a language-related requirement to people of certain races or nationalities;
- Posting advertisements that contain blanket statements, such as “all tenants must speak English”; or
- Immediately turning away applicants who are not fluent in English.
By acknowledging LEP discrimination as under the FHA, the prohibition against LEP discrimination now applies much more broadly regardless of whether federal assistance is involved.