How to Handle a Fair Housing Complaint
- If you have an attorney, notify your attorney of the complaint.
- Collect and review the documents pertinent to the complaint and make a list of potential witnesses to the incident in question.
- It is a good idea to keep records on all prospective, current, and past residents. You should also have a written screening policy and documentation showing that policy is uniformly and consistently applied to each applicant.
- Weigh the merits of the complaint based on your or your attorney’s review of the facts and relevant law
- Ensure that you respond to the complaint, in writing, within the time period specified.
- If you need additional time, contact U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to request more time to respond.
- Respond to conciliation offers in a timely manner: You can choose to either accept the offer, make a counter-offer, or reject the offer.
- Keep in mind that the investigator is impartial and best results are achieved by being cooperative with the investigator.
- HUD may make a formal request for additional information – respond to such requests fully and in a timely manner.
- Do not withhold information, as HUD has the authority to subpoena to obtain information, if needed
- Provide the investigator with contact information for additional witnesses if you know of other persons with knowledge relevant to the complaint.
- The case will be resolved in one of three ways:
- Conciliation agreement. Make sure you comply with the terms of the agreement.
- If HUD finds "no reasonable cause," the complaint will be dismissed.
- If HUD finds reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has taken place, HUD will issue a charge of discrimination and schedule a hearing before a HUD administrative law judge (ALJ).
- Either party may elect to proceed in federal court.
- After the case is closed, you have the right to obtain a copy of HUD’s report, usually at your own expense.
- Know your rights during an investigation: To have your designated legal representative present; to be provided a fair, unbiased, and timely investigation; to be kept informed; and to be offered a conciliatory process.
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.