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Iowa Civil Rights Commission Disclaimer. The information contained in this presentation is a brief overview and should not be construed as legal advice or exhaustive coverage of the topic. Fair Housing in Iowa. What is fair housing?.

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Iowa civil rights commission disclaimer l.jpg

Iowa Civil Rights CommissionDisclaimer

The information contained in this presentation is a brief overview and should not be construed as legal advice or exhaustive coverage of the topic.


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Fair Housingin Iowa


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What is fair housing?

  • The right of all persons to apply for and be considered for the housing of their choice in the neighborhood they choose and can afford

  • Applies to all housing transactions: rentals, sales, leases, sub-leases, advertising, loans, appraisals, insurance and zoning


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Federal laws

Civil Rights Act of 1866

Civil Rights Act of 1968, Title VIII

Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA)

State law

Iowa Civil Rights Act, Chapter 216 of the Iowa Code and Chapter 161 of the Iowa Admin Code

Local (city or county) ordinances may also apply

Fair Housing Laws


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Do not discriminate (treat someone differently) because of:

  • Race or color

  • Religion or creed

  • Sex

  • Sexual orientation

  • Gender identity

  • National origin

  • Physical or mental disability

  • Familial status (presence of children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women)


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Characteristics NOT Protected

  • Citizenship – a landlord may require all tenants be citizens; however, all applicants must be treated the same in this regard, including requests for documentation.

  • Limited English Proficiency (LEP) –A landlord is not required to pay for an interpreter or provide documents in alternate languages if the property is not federally funded.


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Basic definitions

  • Immigrant : A foreign-born person who comes to the United States with the intention of residing permanently.

  • Refugee: A person who is unable to return to his/her country of origin due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.

  • Citizen: A person born in the US, or who has otherwise become a citizen.


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A good tenant:

  • Is financially responsible - pays the rent in full and on time

  • Abides by the building rules

  • Takes care of the property

  • Does not disturb other tenants

  • Does not engage in criminal activity


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How to select a good tenant:

  • Use standard, objective selection criteria

  • Use written application

  • Verify income/employment

  • Check personal and housing references

  • Check financial/credit status

  • DO NOT base decision on protected characteristics, stereotypes, or “looks like a good tenant”


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Equal terms and conditions

  • Cannot require additional deposit from families with children or persons with disabilities

  • May not offer “move in specials” to some persons but not others

  • Cannot base rent or deposit on number of persons in the unit (except when utilities are paid by owner and can be demonstrated)

  • May not harass tenants or allow others to harass them


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The law does not protect “bad behavior.”

  • Persons may be evicted because of lease violations, such as:

  • Non-payment of rent

  • Continually disturbing the neighbors

  • Creating safety and health problems

  • Bringing illegal activity into the building


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Advertising

  • Advertising is not just newspaper ads, but also bulletin boards, shoppers, newsletters, word of mouth

  • Advertise the characteristics of the property, not characteristics of people

  • May advertise for roommates of one sex if living space is shared

  • Do not discourage property seekers because of protected characteristics


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Occupancy standards

  • Current HUD guidelines are two persons per average-sized bedroom

  • Standard refers to “persons” - do not specify adults or children, male or female

  • May limit an efficiency apartment to one person

  • Mobile home parks: standard based on size of home, not number of persons per lot


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Families with children

  • Familial Status is defined as the presence of children under age 18, pregnant woman, or person seeking or sharing custody of children

  • Do not discourage families with children by giving advice, “This wouldn’t be a good place for a family.” Let the tenant make that decision

  • Do not segregate families on one floor or in one building


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Exemptions in Housing for older persons

Housing for older persons exempt only from familial status provisions of the law, not from other personal characteristics

  • Exemptions exist only if:

  • Housing for persons age 62 years or older (all units)

  • Housing for persons age 55 years or older - 80% of units occupied by those persons - services specifically for older persons


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ACCESSIBILITY

What the Law Requires

FOR MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING


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OVERVIEW:

Introduction to Accessibility Laws

  • Applicable laws

  • Accessibility and requirements for multi-family housing

  • Responsibility


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Accessibility compliance

  • At the state level, multi-family housing must receive a handicapped review certificate from the State Building Code Bureau.

  • Local governments sometimes have their own process…some use the State Building Code Bureau.

  • New units built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991


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Who is a person with a disability?

  • Any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,

  • or has a record of such an impairment,

  • or who is regarded as having such an impairment


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What is Multi-family housing?

  • New construction: projects of four or more multi-family units with an elevator, all units must comply

  • New construction: projects with four or more units without elevators, ground floor units must comply

  • Exceptions: single family housing, duplexes, triplexes, two story townhouses


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What is Accessibility?

  • Making buildings and facilities that can be entered and used by all people

  • Accessibility provides access to people with disabilities, but the end result is a living environment more useable by everyone


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What is Accessibility?

  • New Construction -- design components of housing that can be used by everyone

  • Existing Buildings -- removal of barriers, when possible, that prevent use by some people


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Accessibility Requirements

  • Accessible entrance & accessible route

  • Accessible public & common use areas

  • Usable Doors

  • Accessible routes into and through the dwelling unit

  • Environmental controls, outlets, thermostats and light switches in accessible locations

  • Reinforced bathroom walls

  • Usable kitchens & bathrooms


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What are reasonable accommodations?

Changes in rules, policies, practices and services which enable a person with a disability to reside in the unit which are necessary to permit a person with a disability to use and enjoy the unit


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What are reasonable accommodations?

The accommodation must:

  • Be requested

  • Be reasonable

  • Not impose an undue burden on the landlord


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Examples of reasonable accommodations

  • Allow service animals

  • Provide adequate handicapped parking

  • Allow changes in rules for paying rent

  • Permitting more “clutter”, allowing more time to comply with notice to clean up

  • Permitting a tenant with mobility problems to move from the second or third floor to the first floor


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What are reasonable modifications?

Physical modifications or changes needed to provide “full enjoyment” of the housing unit


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Examples: reasonable modifications

  • Entrance ramp

  • Grab bars in bathroom

  • Widening doors

  • Installation of lever doorknobs

  • Accessible mailboxes or trash receptacle


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Examples: reasonable modifications

  • Removing cabinet under sink

  • Disconnecting a stove and installing a microwave oven

  • Doorbell light signal for hearing impaired

  • Relocation of switches and controls


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What is reasonable?

  • A reasonable modification must be “reasonable”.

  • The landlord can ask for assurances that the work will be done properly and according to code

  • The landlord may require the change be undone if not acceptable to the next tenant or the landlord may require a deposit to cover the cost of the restoration


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Who is responsible for accessibility?

  • Existing Buildings: tenant & landlord

  • New Construction: anyone who designs or builds multi-family housing

  • In your community: everyone should advocate for accessibility


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What legal remedies are available to a tenant?

  • File a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission – 300 days

  • File a complaint with HUD – 1 year

  • File a civil lawsuit – 2 years


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For more information about housing rights, contact:

Iowa Civil Rights CommissionGrimes State Office Building400 E. 14th StreetDes Moines, Iowa 50319515-281-4121800-457-4416 (toll free)www.state.ia.us/government/crc


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