A Companion Animal is not a 'Pet' by Bob Hunt An apartment complex allows tenants to have pets, but their ability to do so is subject to a pet deposit (generally 1/2 month's rent) and a monthly surcharge of $15.00 A prospective tenant indicates on his application that he has a companion animal. An accompanying letter from the applicant's physician states that the companionship of the applicant's cat is instrumental in keeping the prospective tenant from suffering severe and debilitating episodes of depression. When the tenant is accepted, subject to the complex's standard pet charges, he complains of wrongful discrimination and says that he should not be assessed the extra charges. If the matter is adjudicated, will the tenant prevail? Bet on it. On the federal level, the relevant law governing this sort of scenario would be the 1998 Fair Housing Act Amendments (FHHA) which expanded the Fair Housing Act to include handicapped persons. A handicap is there defined as "a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities." In California we would look to the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), particularly at Government Code §12927(c). Other states have similar laws. The principles tend to be the same. With respect to the scenario above, we note first why it is that there would be something wrong with the tenant being charged the otherwise perfectly legal fees for having a pet. That is because animals that are used to ameliorate disabilities (commonly referred to as "service animals" or "companion animals") are, under the law, not pets. Therefore, pet charges do not apply. Moreover, neither does a "no pets" policy. At this point some might say, "Wait, I understand about service animals - seeing eye dogs - but companion animals?" The law does not distinguish between physical and mental disabilities. If you have a condition that substantially limits one or more of your major life activities, then you have a disability. And an animal that helps to overcome the effects of that disability is not required to have the specialized training that so-called "service animals" do. There must, though, be a nexus between the disability and the functional value of the animal. A blind person won't, because of his blindness, get to have a cat; and someone who tends to depression may not get to have a seeing-eye trained German Shepherd. The law requires that a landlord make a "reasonable accommodation" for a disabled person. A reasonable accommodation is where a home provider has a rule, policy, or procedure and permits a change in their rules, policies, or procedures to allow a person with a disability to more fully enjoy and use their premises. This, though, doesn't mean that the landlord has an obligation to do whatever is possible. A balancing of interests and benefits is expected. Suppose, for example, that a landlord has a no-pets policy, and a tenant applicant has a small, quiet companion animal. At first glance, at least, it would appear that an exception to the policy could be made for the disabled person. But, suppose that a landlord has an insurance policy that excludes pit bulls from the premises. (Such exclusions are not uncommon.) If a tenant applicant had a pit bull for a companion animal, it might be considered unreasonable for the landlord to accept the application and lose the insurance. Further, it is important to note that, although a landlord may be required to accept a companion animal as an exception to the landlord's rules (e.g. by not requiring a pet deposit), it could still be considered reasonable that other rules (such as no excessive barking) could still be enforced. Recently, a representative of California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing spoke on these subjects to a group from the California Association of Realtors®. Perhaps the greatest point of contention had to do with the fact that there are no clear criteria governing what persons may be considered qualified to certify that a companion animal is necessary for the well-being of a tenant. As one participant asked: "Is a letter from someone with an MSW (Master of Social Work) sufficient? What about the tenant's yoga instructor?" There was not a definitive answer. It is clear that special treatment may be called for when a tenant has, or claims, a companion animal. Unfortunately, not all the issues have yet been clarified. HYPERLINK "http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20120626_pet.htm"http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20120626_pet.htm
Understanding the Rules for Companion Animals by CHRIS on MARCH 19, 2012 Did you know that companion animal rules also apply to persons who are associated with the tenant? A Nevada landlord is facing discrimination charges after telling his tenants that a frequent visitor could not bring his emotional support dog onto the rental property. Recently, there have been a number of news stories regarding landlords who have been accused of discrimination because of their pet policies. These cases highlight confusion over the companion animal rules. Part of that confusion stems from the fact that these situations are resolved on a case-by-case basis, making it more difficult for landlords to adopt a uniform policy. Here are some commonly asked questions and answers concerning companion animals: Do small landlord businesses have to follow the companion animal rules? Companion animal laws come from both the federal Fair Housing Act and its prohibition against discrimination on the basis of disability, and from state and local laws that do the same thing. According to HUD, the FHA applies to most landlords, except those properties which are owner-occupied with four or fewer units. The state rules are usually more strict. For instance, a state may only exempt owner-occupied properties. It’s important to find out if there are any state or local laws regarding companion animals. When a local housing authority is investigating a charge of discrimination, they often rely on regulations interpreting the FHA, so it’s important for all landlords to know those rules, too. HUD is the agency of the government that oversees the FHA. The Department of Justice is also involved in prosecuting FHA cases. Companion animals are considered a “reasonable accommodation” for a person with a disability. When a tenant or rental prospect complains about discrimination, the landlord may not know about it right away. It is common for the housing agency or for HUD to send in fake applicants called testers to try to catch the landlord in the act of discrimination. These testers will adapt a profile — like a disabled person with a companion cat, and record the communications between the landlord and tenant. It is critical for a landlord to know how to deal with companion animal requests, and to treat all requests in the same way. What is a companion animal? Is it the same as a service animal? A companion animal is an animal that is prescribed for a tenant with a disability to treat the disability, including helping the person cope with the disability. While technically that’s not the same thing as a service animal, under the Fair Housing rules, the distinction does not matter — both have to be allowed into the rental property if prescribed for a tenant with a disability to assist with that disability. While this distinction isn’t important to HUD, it is very important to a landlord. While service animals may undergo rigorous training which includes the socialization skills the animal needs to live in a rental environment, a companion animal may not receive any training at all. There appear to be no restrictions on how the tenant chooses the individual animal, or what type of animal the tenant can choose. However, it is illegal for a landlord to question the tenant regarding the training level of the companion animal. Can anyone “prescribe” a companion animal for the tenant? The fair housing rules provide great leeway regarding who can prescribe a companion pet. The person does not have to be a doctor. They simply need to be ”qualified to treat the disability”, and the animal must be useful in the treatment of the disability, typically by providing emotional support. There are no specific licensing requirements or skills that the person must possess. What do you do when another tenant is allergic or has asthma? HUD suggests looking at these situations on a case-by-case basis. A landlord is not allowed to deny a request for a companion animals based on fears that this situation may occur in the future. If faced with an actual situation, the landlord who denies the request for the animal still may be investigated for discrimination. The landlord can raise defenses at this point, including documentation proving that the other tenant would be harmed, would have to move out, or that the landlord would suffer some specific financial hardship if they grant the request for the animal. Can I charge a pet deposit or pet rent to cover the damage the pet may cause? No. The companion animal is not considered a pet, therefore the landlord cannot charge any addition funds — a deposit, higher rent, pet rent, or change the conditions of the lease for the tenant with a disability who requests a companion animal. Can I apply my pet rules to the companion animal? The landlord must modify any existing pet policies, whether a “no-pets” policy or restrictions on the type, size or other factors regarding the pet. The companion animal is legally not a pet. However, local or state rules which govern animals in residences likely still apply. This means that if your city has a ban on pit bulls, the companion animal cannot be a pit bull. (One local HUD division representative indicated that they have received complaints from tenants who wish to have pit bulls as companion animals.) If the city or state regulates the number of animals, or the animal’s droppings violate the law, HUD’s position so far has been that the landlord does not have the right to waive those local laws — only their own policies. Can I deny the request for a companion animal? The landlord can deny the request if the person making the request is not legally disabled, if the animal is not prescribed for treatment of that specific disability, or if keeping the animal creates an undue burden, like harming others, forcing the landlord to break the law, or causing a significant financial burden the landlord. Landlords must be very careful not to apply their own standard on determining whether a companion animal is justified. An Oregon landlord was sued for denying a request for a companion dog consistent with a no-pets policy. The tenant suffered from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, arthritis and fibromyalgia. The landlord told the tenant that a dog would only be justified if she were blind; however, he would allow her to have a fish or a bird. Can I require documentation before I decide whether to allow the animal? If the disability is obvious, and therefore the need for the animal is obvious, a landlord is warned not to ask for specific documentation or otherwise burden the tenant. However, if the disability is not obvious or not known, the landlord can ask for simple verification of the disability and the need for the animal as treatment if that link is not obvious. For instance, if a tenant who is in a wheelchair asks for a companion animal, the link between the disability and the animal may not be obvious. In that situation, the landlord could ask for some verification. A letter from the person treating the disability stating the animal is necessary is considered sufficient documentation. What do I do if the animal causes damage? HUD’s position is that any other remedies that are available under the HYPERLINK "http://www.tenantverification.com/store/"lease agreement generally will be enforceable. That means that the landlord should be able to deduct damage from the general security deposit, or pursue a tenant for the damage in court, regardless of that person’s disability. The tenant is generally expected to clean up after the animal and provide for its day-to-day care, subject to any local laws regarding the care and maintenance of an animal. HYPERLINK "http://www.tvslandlordblog.com/tips/understanding-the-rules-for-companion-animals/"http://www.tvslandlordblog.com/tips/understanding-the-rules-for-companion-animals/
General Information and Definitions Federal, state, and local laws make it illegal to discriminate in the provision of housing based on a person’s protected class. At the federal level, the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. In CA, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits housing discrimination on the same basis as the federal law, but also makes it illegal to discriminate based on marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation and source of income. Several other laws touch on the issue of housing discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal law, prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on disability and does not generally apply to individual apartments. However, the ADA does apply to areas of an apartment complex or housing development that are open to the public, such as a rental office. In CA, the Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination by all business establishments based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, disability, marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation, source of income, age and other forms of arbitrary discrimination. The renting of houses and apartments is considered to be a public accommodation for purposes of Unruh and is therefore covered by the Act. Sources:
Fair Housing Amendments Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601
Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov. Code sec. 12955, et seq.
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.
Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civil Code sec. 51 et seq. Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) Definitions FEHA prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income or disability. Each of these characteristics is also referred to as a “protected class”. · “Sex” is defined to include gender identity. As an example, a housing provider may not discriminate on the basis that a male tenant dresses in female clothing. “Sex” also includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. · “Familial status” means one or more persons under age 18 who reside with a parent, legal guardian, or designee of the parent or legal guardian with the parent’s or legal guardian’s written consent. Familial status also applies to persons who are pregnant and to persons who are in the process of gaining legal custody of an individual under the age of 18. · “Source of income” means lawful, verifiable income paid directly to the tenant or to the tenant’s representative. It is not illegal for a housing provider to ask amount or source of a tenant’s income. · “Disability” is a disease, disorder, or condition that limits a major life activity. The definition of disability, for purposes of discrimination, includes having a disability, having a record or history of such a disability, or being regarded or treated as having such a disability. · “Sexual orientation” means heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. · “Race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, or disability" includes a perception that the person has any of those characteristics or that the person is associated with a person who has, or is perceived to have, any of those characteristics. Prohibited Conduct FEHA makes it illegal for an owner to do any of the following: Owner · Discriminate or harass any person because of their protected class. · Make any written or oral inquiry concerning the protected class of any person seeking to purchase, rent or lease any housing accommodation. · Retaliate by harassing, evicting, or otherwise discriminating against a person who has opposed discriminatory housing practices, informed law enforcement of such practices, testified or assisted in a discrimination case, or aided or encouraged a person to exercise their fair housing rights. Owner includes the lessee, sub-lessee, assignee, managing agent, real estate broker, or salesperson, or any person having any legal or equitable right of ownership or possession or the right to rent or lease housing accommodations, and includes the state and any of its political subdivisions and any agency thereof. FEHA makes it illegal for any person to do any of the following: · Make, print or publish any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a housing accommodation that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination based on a protected class or an intention to make any preference, limitation, or discrimination. · Aid, abet, incite, compel, or coerce any person to do any of the acts prohibited by FEHA. · Otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling based on discrimination because of a person’s protected class. Under FEHA, discrimination includes the following practices when based on a protected class: · Refusing to sell, rent or lease housing accommodations. · Refusing to negotiate for the sale, rental, or lease of housing accommodations · Representation that a housing accommodation is not available for inspection, sale or rental when that housing accommodation is in fact so available. · Any other denial or withholding of housing accommodations. · Providing inferior terms, conditions, privileges, facilities, or services in connection with those housing accommodations. · Harassment in connection with those housing accommodations. · Canceling or terminating a sale or rental agreement. · Providing separated or segregated housing accommodations. · Refusing to permit reasonable modifications to the property by a disabled person, at the expense of the disabled person, when these modifications may be necessary to afford the disabled person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. · Refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when these accommodations may be necessary to afford a disabled person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. · Blockbusting - attempts by sellers or landlords to encourage persons to leave an area based on their protected class. · Redlining - practices by banks that limit lending in particular areas because of the demographic character of the area. Exemptions Under FEHA, discrimination does not include: · Refusal to rent or lease a portion of an owner-occupied single-family house to a person as a roomer or boarder living within the household, provided that no more than one roomer or boarder is to live within the household, and the owner complies with that section of FEHA which prohibits discriminatory notices, statements, and advertisements. · The use of words stating or tending to imply that the housing being advertised is available only to persons of one sex, but only where the sharing of living areas in a single dwelling unit is involved. While the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) has additional exemptions, these do not apply in CA. FEHA is more protective, and therefore even if a particular owner is exempt under the federal law, they would not be exempt under FEHA unless one of the two situations mentioned above applies. For example, an owner renting out only one single-family home may be exempt under the FHAA, but would still be subject to FEHA. Senior Housing The fair housing laws that make it illegal to discriminate against families with children do not apply to “housing for older persons” as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), or to “senior housing” as defined by the CA Civil Code, sections 51.2, 51.3, and 51.4. Senior housing is also the exception to the CA law prohibiting age discrimination in housing. Common Fair Housing Issues Income Standards While the use of income standards is a legitimate means of screening tenants, those income standards must be applied equally and in a non-discriminatory manner. FEHA requires that a housing provider account for the aggregate income of persons residing together or proposing to reside together on the same basis as the aggregate income of married persons residing together or proposing to reside together. Therefore, if a housing provider allows married persons to combine their incomes in order to qualify, they must do the same for single persons as well. Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) Although CA law does not require a landlord to rent to Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) recipients, where a landlord does rent to such persons, any income standard used to qualify them must only be applied to that portion of the rent that they would actually pay. For example, if the housing provider’s income standard is three times the rent and the Section 8 recipient would only pay $50.00 of the total monthly rent of $600.00, then the recipient need only have an income of $150.00 to qualify. Discriminatory Policies re: Families with Children · Families with children include single parents and persons who are pregnant. Discrimination against families with children includes refusing to rent, different terms or conditions (i.e., higher deposits/ rents), rules just for children, and discriminatory advertising (i.e., “adults preferred"). · In regards to rules that discriminate against families with children, any rule targeted at children and not adults would be considered a form of familial based discrimination unless there is a reasonable health and safety reason for the rule and the rule is not too broad. What is reasonable has to be decided on a case by case basis. · The law doesn’t speak to absolute age requirements except for pool rules, where CA Code of regulations, Title 22, Article Three, section 65539 states that children under age 14 should not use a pool without an adult in attendance. A rule stating no children allowed to use pool without adult supervision would be considered unreasonable and too broad. Steering It is unlawful to discourage any person from inspecting, purchasing or renting a dwelling because of that person’s protected class, or to assign any person to a particular section of a community or to a particular floor of a building because of that person’s protected class. Examples of practices that constitute steering are: · Failing to inform a person with children that an upstairs unit is available because you don’t want children living upstairs. · Informing someone of a particular race or national origin of vacancies in one building but not another because you assume that person would prefer to live near other tenants of the same race of national origin. · Assigning students and families with children to units on one side of the complex, while assigning single persons and older persons to units on the other side of the complex. · Referring a prospective renter to another complex that you believe better suits them. · Voluntarily telling a person with children that your complex is very quiet, that most of your tenants are business persons and older persons, and that there are very few children. · Failing to inform or discouraging a blind person from renting an available upstairs unit. Occupancy Standards The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued guidelines regarding occupancy standards that may violate fair housing laws because they adversely impact families with children. In most cases, occupancy standards should allow at least two persons per bedroom, regardless of the age, gender or relationship of the persons living in the unit. In CA, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing views “two persons per bedroom plus one” as a guideline for occupancy standards. A more restrictive policy may be found to be discriminatory. Though landlords may not use occupancy standards to discriminate against families with children, some cities have established occupancy guidelines. For example the City and County of Sacramento have created guidelines regarding the minimum square footage required for each person in a rental unit. These following standards may be enforced: City of Sacramento: Two tenants need 90 square feet of sleeping space, and each additional tenant needs an additional 50 square feet of sleeping space [Sacramento Housing Code §8.100.310]. County of Sacramento: Two tenants need 70 square feet, and each additional person needs 50 square feet of sleeping space [Uniform Housing Code, Space and Occupancy Standards, §503(b)]. Reasonable Modifications Fair housing laws require that a housing provider to permit a person with a disability to make reasonable modifications to the existing premises, at person’s own expense, if the modifications may be necessary to afford the disabled person full enjoyment of the premises. The housing provider may not require such person to pay an additional security deposit. However, where it is reasonable to do so, the housing provider can condition permission on the person’s agreeing to restore the interior of the premises to the condition that existed before the modification. Common modifications include: · Installing grab bars in the bathroom. · Widening the doorway to the bathroom. · Removing under-the-counter cabinets. · Installing a ramp that leads to the unit. Note: Federally funded housing projects may be required to pay for reasonable modifications. Reasonable Accommodations Fair housing laws require a housing provider to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling unit, including public and common use areas. Common accommodations include: · Allowing a person with a disability to keep a service animal or companion animal despite a “no pets” policy. · Not charging a person with a disability a pet deposit for their service animal or companion animal. · Allowing a person with a disability to keep a service animal or companion that exceeds your property’s limitations on pet size and / or weight. · Assigning a person with a disability a parking spot near their unit even though tenant parking is generally on a first-come-first-served basis. · Widening the parking spot of a tenant in a wheelchair to allow them access in and out of their vehicle. · Allowing a tenant with a disability to have a live-in personal care attendant (PCA) without required that they apply for tenancy or to be on lease. Note: The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U. S. Dept. of Justice have issued a joint statement providing guidance on the issue of reasonable accommodations. For more information, please refer to HUD’s website at HYPERLINK "http://www.hud.gov/"www.hud.gov. Assistance Animals Fair housing laws also require housing providers to allow a person with a disability to keep an assistance animal, also known as a service animal or companion animal, as a reasonable accommodation. An assistance animal is not a pet. They are animals that work, provide assistance, or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or animals that provide emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability. Because an assistance animal is not a pet, “no pet” policies and limitations on size, weight and type of pet do not apply. Assistance animals perform many disability-related functions, including but not limited to the following: · Guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision. · Alerting individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired. · Providing minimal protection or rescue assistance. · Pulling a wheelchair. · Fetching items. · Alerting persons to impending seizures. · Providing emotional support to persons with disabilities who have a disability-related need for such support. An assistance animal is not required to have formal training.
A housing provider (public or private) may not refuse to allow a person with a disability to have an assistance animal merely because the animal does not have formal training. Some, but not all, animals that assist persons with disabilities are professionally trained. Other assistance animals are trained by the owners themselves and, in some cases, no special training is required. The question is whether or not the animal performs the disability-related benefit needed by the person with the disability. The person requesting the accommodation must show a relationship between their disability and their need for the assistance animal.
Assistance animals are a means to provide a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a disability, but a person with a disability is not automatically entitled to have an assistance animal. Reasonable accommodation requires that there is a relationship between the person’s disability and his or her need for the animal. A housing provider (public or private) is permitted to verify that the individual requesting the assistance animal is a person with a disability and that the animal is needed to assist with the disability. The housing provider may require that the individual requesting an assistance animal verify their need. Such verification can include a physician’s confirmation. The Human Rights/Fair Housing Commission has a Reasonable Accommodation Packet which includes a physician verification form. The packet can be requested directly from the Commission by calling HYPERLINK "tel:%28916%29%20444-6903"(916) 444-6903. As with all other disability-related inquiries, the housing provider (public or private) may not ask about the nature or severity of the resident’s disability. Pet deposits do not apply to assistance animals.
A housing provider may not require an applicant or tenant to pay a fee or security deposit as a condition of allowing the applicant or tenant to keep an assistance animal. The tenant is responsible for the cost of repairs necessary due to damage caused by the assistance animal. These costs may be deducted from the tenant’s security deposit after the tenant has vacated the unit. A housing provider may only refuse an assistance animal where specific facts exist.
A housing provider’s refusal to modify or provide an exception to a “no pets” rule or policy to permit a person with a disability to use and live with an assistance animal would violate Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (public housing) the Fair Housing Act, and the Fair Employment and Housing Act unless: · There is reliable objective evidence that the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by a reasonable accommodation; · There is reliable objective evidence that the animal would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others; · The presence of the assistance animal would pose an undue financial and administrative burden to the provider; or · The presence of the assistance animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the provider’s services. (Sources: HUD Multifamily Occupancy Guidebook, 4350.3 REV-1; HUD Occupancy Handbook, 5/03) Filing A Housing Discrimination Complaint The Regional Human Rights/Fair Housing Commission is one of the forums available to you for filing a housing discrimination complaint. If you believe that you have experienced housing discrimination and wish to file a complaint with the Commission, call HYPERLINK "tel:%28916%29%20444-6903"(916) 444-6903or HYPERLINK "tel:%28916%29%20444-0178"(916) 444-0178. You may also obtain a copy of the complaint form by logging on to HYPERLINK "http://www.hrfh.org/"www.hrfh.org and printing out a copy. Completely fill out the complaint form and return it by either mail or in person to: RHR/FHC, 1112 I Street, #250, Sacramento, CA95814. Other ways to file a discrimination claim include: 1. Filing a private lawsuit in state or federal court.
You may hire a private attorney to investigate your complaint and commence litigation in state or federal court on your behalf, or you may file a lawsuit and represent yourself in court. If you wish to hire an attorney, you may contact the Sacramento County Bar Lawyer Referral Service at HYPERLINK "tel:%28916%29%20444-2333"(916) 444-2333. You do not need to file a complaint with an administrative agency prior to filing a private action of housing discrimination. If you choose to file a private action in state or federal court, you must do so within two years of the date of discrimination. 2. Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
DFEH is the state agency authorized to investigate housing discrimination complaints and enforce state fair housing laws. If you choose to file a complaint with DFEH, you must do so within one year of the date of discrimination. The Sacramento District office is located at 2000 “O” Street, Suite 120, Sacramento, CA95184. To file a complaint from within California, call HYPERLINK "tel:%28800%29%20233%E2%80%933212"(800) 233–3212 or visit their website at HYPERLINK "http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/"www.dfeh.ca.gov. 3. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
HUD is the federal agency authorized to investigate housing discrimination complaints and enforce federal fair housing laws. If you choose to file a complaint with HUD, you must do so within one year of the date of discrimination. To file a complaint, call HYPERLINK "tel:%28800%29%20669-9777"(800) 669-9777 or visit their website at HYPERLINK "http://www.hud.gov/"www.hud.gov.