Realtors are receiving demand letters from lawyers alleging the realtors’ websites do not conform with the Fair Housing Act and demanding payment. Interestingly, these letters do not often raise ADA issues. The response has been unique to each realtor, most believing, rightfully so, that there is no claim. There is a reasonable expectation that such letters will continue into other industries. They have already occurred with at least one RV park in the state. If you are a business and you have a website, have you taken precautions?
Most people want to comply with these laws, you just may need to have a refresher review of your site. The FHA protects against unlawful discrimination in any aspect of selling or renting housing, among other things. Furthermore, the FHA prohibits the printing, publishing, or advertisement of the sale or rental of a dwelling that may indicate a preference based on a protected class, such as those with limited abilities. In sum, the FHA does not allow for websites that may be viewed as inaccessible as it may be viewed as discriminatory.
Usually the claim involves an allegation that a website has unlawful accessibility issues in that it discriminates against those with disabilities. To try and avoid demand letters asserting your website is not in compliance with FHA regulations, you may want to take certain steps to reevaluate the accessibility of your website. If you are using WordPress, consider making the switch to the Accessible Theme. You may even want to recruit professional help in the way of an independent expert remediating your page for accessibility. The audit should reveal potential accessibility issues with your website and address the problem so that the issues are corrected.
In being proactive with possible issues relating to the FHA and website accessibility, checking with an experienced real estate lawyer can be a good first step to avoid being on the receiving end of one of these demand letters. Contact our office today for assistance.