South Florida by the numbers: Focus on fair housing
“South Florida by the numbers” is a web feature that catalogs the most notable, quirky and surprising real estate statistics.
Over the past few weeks, our nation has struggled mightily with complex and serious issues concerning race and policing. For Realtors and other real estate professionals, a Code of Ethics and Fair Housing laws clearly spell out how race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, nor gender identity can have any bearing on decisions to cooperate with each other, or to offer/deny equal professional services to customers. (They also forbid discrimination or preference in any plan/agreement, employment practices, or advertising.) But these codes, rules, and laws do get reviewed, improved, and tested from time to time, and it is important to shed some light when questions arise in our community and state. We turn our focus to recent fair housing issues in this edition of “South Florida by the numbers.”
7: Number of years the Florida Commission on Human Relations (the state agency responsible for enforcing the Florida Fair Housing Act) has been working on an important recent change that ensures the Act aligns with federal standards. In order to maintain equivalency with federal law and preserve its partnership with HUD, the legislation now provides that state claimants will no longer have to wait prior to seeking civil action. [OrlandoWeekly]
1084: New Florida Senate bill (awaiting gubernatorial approval) that would prohibit landlords from denying housing to people with disabilities because of their support animals. It clarifies that an animal is not required to be trained to assist a person, but the animal must be able to alleviate a person of identified symptoms because of its presence. (Current law requires a “service animal,” such as a dog or miniature horse, to be trained to aid an individual with a disability to qualify.) [FloridaPolitics]
1: After marketing a property to the public, the number of business days real estate agents who sell through various Multiple Listing Services must now submit their listings to the MLS – effectively limiting the use of “pocket listings.” (This is a new rule implemented by the National Association of Realtors in 2020.) The previous longstanding policy had received criticism for being anti-consumer in nature and a threat to fair housing rules. [MiamiAgentMagazine]
$2,000 – $5,000: Range of fees offered by website companies to local community associations to make their websites compliant with the Fair Housing Act, by better accommodating visitors with visual impairments. This comes in addition to law firms that threaten “tester lawsuits” against the associations for non-compliance, when compliance is often a simple matter of adjusting the content and functionality of the website, including features that can be optimized for the visually impaired.
2: Number of lawsuits filed by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in March against the city of Fort Lauderdale, which has denied the agency’s development of an affordable housing project for people for HIV/AIDS. (The project drew protests from many residents of neighboring Rio Vista, a high-income residential community.) The lawsuits, filed against the city in both federal court and Broward County Circuit Court, allege the city’s rejection of the project was discriminatory and violated both the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.
This column is produced by the Master Brokers Forum, a network of South Florida’s elite real estate professionals where membership is by invitation only and based on outstanding production, as well as ethical and professional behavior.