Friday, November 20, 2015

Bans Against Smoking May Discriminate Against the Elderly and Disabled

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing a ban on smoking in public housing units nationwide to protect residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Citing to the higher risks of cancer and other diseases associated with secondhand smoking, HUD Secretary Julian Castro stated that this policy would protect millions of Americans from preventable diseases every year. Additionally, it would save public housing agencies millions of dollars in repairs from fire and smoke damage caused by lit tobacco products.

The “castle doctrine” is a long-standing legal doctrine allowing individuals certain protections in his or own home. However, if HUD’s proposed ban is enacted, public housing will no longer be a castle for those residents who want to smoke in the privacy of their own homes. By conducting public health studies and hearing public comments, HUD is within its rights to create such a ban.
Many public housing agencies across the country have already implemented anti-smoking policies due to the HUD’s vigorous campaign to adopt such policies since 2009. However, this proposed ban would require all public housing agencies to conform to a non-smoking policy in not only the residences but also the indoor common areas, administrative offices, and within 25 feet outdoors of these units.

It is unclear how the rule will be enforced and what kinds of accommodations will be offered to smokers who already reside in these public housing units. Though the act of smoking lit tobacco products does not fall under a protected class, this policy may have a disparate impact on elderly and disabled smokers who cannot easily leave their homes every time they want a cigarette. If the elderly and disabled are unable to conform to the rule, they be forced out of their residences without any other place to go.

Secondhand smoke is a public health issue, but HUD must tread lightly to offer reasonable accommodations to those who already reside in public housing and who may not be able to abide by the new rule.  Otherwise, HUD may face a flood of discrimination lawsuits.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fair Housing Act - FREE CE in NYC on 1/7/16

We just opened enrollment for The Fair Housing Act CE class which will be held at St. John's University Manhattan Campus, located at 101 Astor Place. Limited Seating. Online Registration Only. 

Date: 01/07/16 at 12:30pm

Instructor: Andrew Lieb, Esq. 

Credits: 3

Summary: Be warned - Discrimination in housing is very serious and exposes real estate agents to liability and the potential loss of their license. In fact, discrimination is so serious that the Department of State only requires that this course be included in the requisite 22.5 hours of continuing education and requires no other topic. This course is not a general survey course on discrimination, instead it explains a very specific law: The Fair Housing Act, which regulates our entire industry. The seminar will detail specific cases involving real estate agents and mortgage lenders who violated the Act. Be prepared for this course to hit home.

Click Here To Enroll

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Neighbor Warning: Don't Sign Out of Possession Title Affidavits

When your neighbors list their house for sale, proceed with caution and see an attorney immediately if you are presented with an out of possession title affidavit or a boundary line agreement.

This affidavit or agreement is a writing wherein you, as a neighbor, swears, under the penalties of perjury, that you do not assert an ownership claim to real estate which has been used by you as if it were your own. Meaning, part of the property owned by your neighbor in their deed, such as a driveway, fence, shrubs, bulkheading, wood chopping area, boat storage, or the like, may have been used by you for a period of time sufficient to transfer the ownership to you through legal concepts called either adverse possession or a prescriptive easement. However, the new purchaser wants this affidavit or agreement so you disclaim your ownership rights.

Read the complete article in full by Andrew Lieb, Esq. here.