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January 2017 Legal Tidbit

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Question: What is “disparate impact” housing discrimination?

Answer: Generally, it is a property management policy which burdens a particular protected class (such as a race, religion, or gender) more heavily than other residents or applicants. Often, an intent to illegally discriminate cannot be proven, but a statistical analysis by the claimant shows that the result of the policy is a denial of housing to the protected group. The U.S. Supreme Court in a five to four decision ruled that so long as the landlord can demonstrate that its policy does not raise “artificial, arbitrary and unnecessary barriers” to housing, a statistical analysis alone will not be enough for the policy to be illegal. So, any management policy that furthers a legitimate management goal, will be less likely to be illegal even if it results in a heavier housing burden on an identified group.

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