The NAR legal department opined to SCR that real estate licensees have no duty under ADA, Fair Housing Laws, and NAR Fair Housing Ethics Article 10 to provide language interpreters in the transaction, nor transportation for mobility-impaired consumers to showings of listings.
That being said, the NAR legal team are not SC judges nor SC Human Affairs Commissioners, nor SC real estate commissioners, nor SCR ethics hearing panel members who may be deciding your fair housing case if complaints are filed.
Also, real estate professionals have to consider the public relations issues that may arise if a member of the public makes public allegations on social media and/or mass media against a brokerage regarding alleged illegal discrimination and alleged violations of fair housing laws.
NAR Ethics Article 10
REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/14)
Who must comply with the Fair Housing Act’s reasonable accommodation requirements? Any person or entity engaging in prohibited conduct – i.e., refusing to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling – may be held liable unless they fall within an exception to the Act’s coverage. Courts have applied the Act to individuals, corporations, associations and others involved in the provision of housing and residential lending, including property owners, housing managers, homeowners and condominium associations, lenders, real estate agents, and brokerage services. Courts have also applied the Act to state and local governments, most often in the context of exclusionary zoning or other land-use decisions. See e.g., City of Edmonds v. Oxford House, Inc., 514 U.S. 725, 729 (1995); Project Life v. Glendening, 139 F. Supp. 703, 710 (D. Md. 2001), aff’d 2002 WL 2012545 (4th Cir. 2002). Under specific exceptions to the Fair Housing Act, the reasonable accommodation requirements of the Act do not apply to a private individual owner who sells his own home so long as he (1) does not own more than three single-family homes; (2) does not use a real estate agent and does not employ any discriminatory advertising or notices; (3) has not engaged in a similar sale of a home within a 24-month period; and (4) is not in the business of selling or renting dwellings. The reasonable accommodation requirements of the Fair Housing Act also do not apply to owner-occupied buildings that have four or fewer dwelling units.
Due to other risks/considerations, a real estate professional might decide to absorb the additional costs of a reasonable accommodation in fair housing situations such as: a Spanish language interpreter or getting the bi-lingual law firm involved early in the transaction or paying/utilizing private/public mobility-impaired transportation with disabled consumers as a risk management strategy.
Even a successful defense in court, at LLR, or at SCR has a high cost in terms of time, travel, paperwork, worry, negative public relations, attorney fees, use by competitors against you with potential clients, permanent public record, risk of being found in violation, appeals after violation findings, and paying ordered fines/education/judgments.
Posted by: Byron King on 12/19/19 (This information is only accurate as of 12/19/19. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 12/19/19 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email info at screaltors.org)