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Any developer, builder, designer or seller of condominiums, apartment buildings, housing projects, or other dwellings is subject to the strictures of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA) and equivalent state statutes. Such laws, which prevent discrimination in the sale or rental of housing in the United States, are overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), state attorneys general and private watchdogs who seek out noncompliant dwellings and sellers.

Liability under the FHA primarily occurs either due to architectural missteps or through seller misconduct. Builders, developers and designers can be liable for any dwelling that does not meet certain architectural standards that are necessary to prevent discrimination against disabled persons. These standards include guidelines for, among other things, the width of doorways and hallways, the height of condominium and apartment amenities, and the accessibility of elevators. Sellers and renters, in turn, can be liable either for overt or unintentional discrimination against any member of a protected class, including the failure to market or sell available housing to minorities.

We represent builders and sellers of housing in their efforts to comply with the FHA and to defend lawsuits brought by government and private plaintiffs. We have helped clients abide by relevant architectural standards and to develop compliant selling and rental practices. When litigation cannot be avoided, we have also litigated FHA claims brought by government agencies, private housing rights groups and private buyers, obtaining favorable results for our clients.


Our services include:

  • Consultation on the meaning and application of the FHA and its regulations.
  • Access to a developed network of architects and experts who can review drawings and designs and ensure compliance with FHA architectural standards before construction.
  • Consultation on post-build site inspections and compliance monitoring.
  • Development of compliant selling and rental practices.
  • Negotiation with HUD and state agencies to aid in litigation avoidance.
  • Representation before the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and other state agencies when faced with administrative complaints.
  • Comprehensive litigation defense in U.S. District Court (or state court, where appropriate) against government and private plaintiffs.
  • Negotiation and development of court-approved retrofit plans, when necessary.
  • Post-litigation monitoring.

Contact Fritz E. Berckmueller, Partner 

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