In our fair housing world, retailiation is against the law. Management cannot retaliate against a resident because he or she filed a fair housing complaint. If someone believes his or her fair housing rights have been violated, the federal Fair Housing Act (and state law) permits them to seek redress. As a part of the case, I make clear to each of my employees that they cannot do anything to punish or strike out against someone who has filed a housing discrimination case.

Indeed, I have seen cases in which management was successful in defending against various allegations raised by a resident, but then gets into trouble with HUD or a state agency because a leasing office staff member did some action which could be construed as retaliating against the resident.

So the record is clear: do not retaliate against anyone for filing a fair housing complaint. Similarly, do not retaliate against someone for assisting a resident or applicant file a fair housing complaint. Now, does retaliation work both ways? What about the resident who keeps filing case after case alleging claims that are wholly without merit? In so doing, the resident takes up more and more time of the leasing office staff. Can management simply evict the resident? Generally no -- not because of the fair housing complaints. The only good news is that the resident will likely tire out the agency (and investigator) assigned to the case.

If management wants to non-renew a resident, make sure your record is appropriately documented so no retaliation claim can be successful. Ensure every action is done because of conduct not related to the fair housing case. Or you may need a lawyer like me.