Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (08/02/1988)

(Measure passed Senate, amended, roll call #283 (94-3))

Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 - Establishes statutorily: (1) the Civil Rights Act of 1968 as the short title of P.L. 90-284; and (2) title VIII of such Act as the Fair Housing Act.

Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to include within the definition of discriminatory housing practice new prohibitions against coercion, intimidation, threats, or interference because of a handicap.

Defines handicap as: (1) a substantially limiting physical or mental impairment; (2) a record of having such an impairment; or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment. Stipulates that the following shall not be considered a handicap: (1) current illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance; and (2) transvestism.

Extends the protections against discrimination based on familial status to pregnant women and adopting parents.

Makes it unlawful to: (1) refuse to sell or rent a dwelling to an individual, someone associated with such individual, or a resident or potential resident, who is handicapped; (2) discriminate against a handicapped individual in the conditions of sale or rental, or in the provision of a related service or facility; (3) refuse to permit reasonable modifications, at the expense of the handicapped renter, except that a landlord may condition interior modifications where reasonable; (4) refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, or services to afford handicapped individuals equal use and enjoyment of a dwelling; or (5) fail to design and construct multifamily dwellings with specified adaptive accessibility and usability designs.

Provides with regard to accessibility and adaptability requirements for multifamily dwellings: (1) that State and local incorporation of new construction and design requirements (as set forth in this Act), will serve as compliance under this Act; and (2) that States and localities are encouraged but not required to include such construction and design provisions in their own review procedures.

States that nothing in this Act requires that a dwelling shall be made available to an individual whose tenancy: (1) would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals; or (2) would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others.

Prohibits discrimination based on handicap in the provision of housing brokerage services (multiple listing services, real estate agents' organizations) and specified rental or sales housing activities.

Prohibits discrimination based on familial status in the sale or rental of homes. Defines "familial status" to mean one or more individuals under the age of 18 being domiciled with a parent, legal custodian, or designee of such parent or legal custodian.

Makes it unlawful for anyone engaged in residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate in the provision or terms of a transaction because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

States that nothing in this Act prohibits real property appraisers from considering nondiscriminatory factors when making appraisals.

States that nothing in this title shall limit the applicability of any reasonable local, State, or Federal restrictions on the maximum number of occupants permitted to occupy a dwelling unit. States that nothing in this Act regarding familial status applies to any State or Federal elderly assistance program.

States that nothing in this title prohibits conduct against a person who has been convicted of the illegal manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance.

States that Federal agencies having regulatory or supervisory authority over financial institutions shall cooperate with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Requires the Secretary to report annually to the Congress regarding fair housing progress and the number of hearings, investigations, and determinations not completed within the required timeframe.

Requires the Secretary to report annually to the Congress regarding Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program applicants and participants.

Revises fair housing enforcement procedures. Permits an aggrieved person to file a housing discrimination complaint with the Secretary within one year of the alleged act. Allows the Secretary to file such a complaint on his or her initiative or investigate a housing practice to determine whether such a complaint should be brought.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) notify the aggrieved person and the respondent of the filing; (2) advise the aggrieved person of the time limits and choice of forums; (3) advise the respondent of the alleged discriminatory practice and his or her rights; and (4) complete the investigation within 100 days unless impracticable to do so.

Permits additional persons to be added as respondents during or after the course of an investigation.

Requires the Secretary to attempt to correct a discriminatory practice by informal methods of conciliation, which may provide for binding arbitration. States that a conciliation agreement shall be made public unless both parties agree otherwise and the Secretary concurs with such decision.

Requires the Secretary to prepare a final investigative report.

Requires the Secretary to refer matters to the Attorney General, recommending that civil actions be filed, when a respondent has failed to comply with a conciliation agreement. Allows the Secretary to refer matters to the Attorney General for prompt judicial action when necessary. Authorizes the Secretary to seek temporary or preliminary relief pending final disposition of a complaint.

Revises current requirements for referring charges to State or local agencies for investigation and enforcement. Specifies the elements of "substantial equivalency" to Federal law which permit certification and referrals of discrimination charges. Continues certification for 40 months from the date of enactment of this Act for previously certified agencies, with an additional eight-month extension if necessary. Requires the Secretary to review agency certification at least every five years.

Permits the Secretary to file an administrative complaint or refer the matter to the Attorney General for civil action if the investigation supports a finding of reasonable cause, except with respect to matters involving land use control, which must be referred.

Requires the Secretary to determine whether reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred (or will occur) within 100 days after the filing of a complaint. (If unable to make such determination within the 100-day period the Secretary must notify complainant and respondent.)

Authorizes the Secretary to issue subpoenas and order discovery. Establishes criminal penalties of up to $100,000 or imprisonment of up to one year, or both, for failure to cooperate with such subpoenas or discovery.

Allows a complainant, respondent, or aggrieved person on whose behalf a complaint was filed to elect judicial enforcement as an alternative to administrative enforcement. Requires: (1) such election to be made within 20 days of receipt of the Secretary's charge; and (2) the electing party to notify the Secretary, complainant, and respondent.

Specifies the following hearing procedures for an administrative complaint: (1) representation by counsel, presentation of evidence as provided for under the Federal Rules of Evidence, and cross-examination of witnesses; (2) expedited discovery and hearing; (3) consent of the aggrieved party in order to resolve a charge before an administrative decision is reached; (4) cessation of administrative proceeding upon commencement of a parallel civil trial; (5) commencement of an administrative hearing within 120 days following issuance of a charge; (6) findings of fact and conclusions of law within 60 days after the end of the hearing, unless impossible to do so (the Secretary must report to the Congress annually on the number of times such time limits are not met); (7) relief in the form of compensatory or equitable relief, and civil penalties; (8) attorney's fees for the prevailing party; (9) court enforcement of an administrative order upon petition by the party entitled to relief; and (10) discretionary review by the Secretary of any funding, conclusion, or order.

Makes certain revisions in the private right of action for aggrieved persons. Extends the statute of limitations from 180 days to two years. Disallows simultaneous administrative and judicial proceedings involving the same charge. Allows the court to appoint an attorney or waive fees and costs for any party in a housing discrimination action.

Allows the Attorney General to intervene upon certification that the civil action is of general public interest.

Continues the authority of the Attorney General to initiate civil actions where there is reasonable cause to believe that a pattern or practice of resistance to fair housing rights has occurred. Permits the Attorney General to commence a civil action for appropriate temporary or preliminary relief pending final disposition of the complaint.

Describes the types of relief which may be granted in civil actions under such Act. Repeals the $1,000 limit on punitive damages.

Permits an aggrieved person to intervene in a civil action.

Prohibits housing discrimination against pregnant women.

States that the amendments made by this Act shall take effect 180 days after enactment of this Act. Requires the Secretary to issue rules implementing title VIII as amended by this Act within 180 days of enactment of this Act.