"For example, a race-neutral decision to ban felons from renting property could be challenged under disparate impact based on the claim that a protected class is more likely to be affected."
Every day housing providers work to eliminate housing discrimination and make their residences available to all, without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability.
Exposing housing providers to expensive and unnecessary litigation due to disparate impact claims hinders our industry's ability to provide quality, safe housing.
In our amicus curiae brief we are urging the nation's highest court to follow the wording and the clearly stated intent of Congress when it passed the U.S. Fair Housing Act. The brief argues that the text and history of the law does not allow disparate impact claims, but instead authorizes only claims based on intentionally discriminatory conduct. Failure to bar disparate impact claims would impose severe consequences - unintended by Congress - on routine decision-making by housing providers to the detriment of property owners and residents.
For example, a race-neutral decision to ban felons from renting property could be challenged under disparate impact based on the claim that a protected class is more likely to be affected. If the property owner could not afford to defend a lawsuit they might simply drop the requirement, making it more difficult for property managers to create a safe and secure community for residents.
It should be noted that while it is very difficult for defendants to recover attorney's fees, even if they prevail in court litigation, including this case, lawsuits often come from special interest groups that are in some cases funded with our tax dollars. Defending allegations of disparate impact, even if those allegations are proved to be without merit, is costly and stigmatizing.
George B. Allen, CAE, TAA Executive Vice President
The Texas Apartment Association (TAA) is a trade association representing rental housing owners, managers, and companies that supply services to the rental housing industry.
The Austin-based association has more than 11,000 members who own or manage more than 1.9 million rental housing units in Texas.
TAA has 25 local affiliated associations in markets around the state.
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