In August 2011, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) filed a complaint against Virginia Realty Company of Tidewater (“VR”) et. al. averring violation of the Fair Housing Act. VR adopted an explicit policy requiring English proficiency as a prerequisite to reside in properties it managed. A Limited English Proficiency (“LEP”) individual was declined tenancy in reliance on the VR policy. Consequently the LEP individual filed a complaint that served as a precursor to HUD’s subsequent investigation and complaint.
In response to HUD’s complaint, VR et. al. demurred. A conciliation agreement, absent admission of guilt, was negotiated between the original complainant and VR et. al. A second and independent conciliation agreement was arrived at between VR. Et. al. and HUD.
The following excerpt from a HUD press release summarizes the significant content of the two agreements:
Under the first agreement, Virginia Realty will pay the prospective tenant $7,500. Under the second agreement, the company will donate $25,000 each to the Piedmont Housing Alliance, Hampton Roads Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Nueva Vida (New Life) Outreach International Church to support fair housing initiatives. In addition, Virginia Realty will adopt a non-discrimination policy, which it will distribute to current residents and prospective tenants; adopt a plan to more effectively serve Limited English Proficient residents and prospective tenants by providing translation and interpretation services; and require its employees to undergo fair housing training.