HUD Guidance Letter April 4 2016

Dissimilar impact is defined by HUD as a violation of the Fair Housing Act when the landlord’s policy or practice looks non-discriminatory and has no intent to discriminate but leads eventually to a discriminatory effect. A landlord may treat all applicants precisely the same, but the application process results undesirably against a protected class resulting in a dissimilar impact.
 On the other hand, criminal background checks can come into play with dissimilar impact even if a landlord runs a background check evenly and against every prospective tenant. However, the landlord may end up discriminating against minorities because they are arrested, convicted and imprisoned disproportionate to their share of the general population. All these rules make achieving compliance a complex and challenging task for landlords, administrators and agents of multifamily properties.

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