Article 8 Fair Housing

§9-801                  Falls City Code                           §9-802

Article 8.  Fair Housing

§9-801    FAIR HOUSING; PURPOSE. The purpose of this Article is to promote the general welfare of the residents of Falls City, Nebraska, by endorsing the provisions of the Nebraska Fair Housing Act, sections 20-301 through 20-344, RS Neb., to the effect that there shall be no discrimination in the City of Falls City, Nebraska, in the acquisition, ownership, possession or enjoyment of housing in accordance with Article I, Section 25, of the Constitution of the State of Nebraska. (Ref.  20-113 RS Neb.)

§9-802    FAIR HOUSING; DEFINITIONS. As used in this Article unless the context otherwise requires:

(1)  Aggrieved person shall include any person who: (a) claims to have been injured by a discriminatory housing practice, or (b) believes that he or she will be injured by a discriminatory housing practice that is about to occur; 

(2)  Commission shall mean the Fair Housing Commission created in section 9-808;

(3) Complainant shall mean the person, including the commission, who files a complaint under section 9-809; 

(4) Conciliation shall mean the attempted resolution of issues raised by a complaint or by the investigation of a complaint through informal negotiations involving the aggrieved person, the respondent, and the commission;   

(5) Conciliation agreement shall mean a written agreement setting forth the resolution of the issues in conciliation;   

(6) Discriminatory housing practice shall mean an act that is unlawful under section 9-803, 9-804, 9-805, 9-806, or 9-807;

(7) Dwelling shall mean any building, structure, or portion thereof which is occupied as or designed or intended for occupancy as a residence for one or more families and any vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon of any such building, structure, or portion thereof;

(8)  Familial status shall mean one or more minors being domiciled with:  (a) a parent or another person having legal custody of such individual; or (b) the designee of a parent or other person having legal custody, with written permission of the parent of other person;

(9)  Family shall include a single individual;   

(10) Handicap shall mean, with respect to a person:  (a) a physical or mental impairment, excluding the current illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance as defined in section 28-401 RS Neb., which substantially limits one or more of such persons major life activities, (b) a record of having such an impairment, or (c) being regarded as having such an impairment;

(11) Person shall include one or more individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, labor organizations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies; trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, receivers, and fiduciaries;  

(12) Rent shall include lease, sublease, let, and otherwise grant for consideration the right to occupy premises not owned by the occupant;

(13) Respondent shall mean:  (a) the person or other entity accused in a complaint of a discriminatory housing practice, and (b) any other person or entity identified in the course of investigation and notified as required with respect to respondents so identified under section 9-809; and    

(14) Restrictive covenant shall mean any specification limiting the transfer, rental, or lease of any housing because of race, creed, religion, color, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, or ancestry. (Ref.  20-304 through 20-317 RS Neb.)

§9-803    FAIR HOUSING; UNLAWFUL ACTS.  Except as exempted by section 9-807, it shall be unlawful to:

(1)  Refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of or otherwise make unavailable or deny, refuse to show, or refuse to receive and transmit an offer for a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, or sex;

(2)  Discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith because of race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, or sex;   

(3)  Make, print, publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference,limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, handicap, familial status, or sex or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination;    

(4)  Represent to any person because of race, color, religion, national origin, handicap, familial status, or sex that any dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available;    

(5)  Cause to be made any written or oral inquiry or record concerning the race, color, religion, national origin, handicap, familial status, or sex of a person seeking to purchase, rent, or lease any housing;

(6)  Include in any transfer, sale, rental, or lease of housing any restrictive covenants or honor or exercise or attempt to honor or exercise any restrictive covenant pertaining to housing; 

(7)  Discharge or demote an employee or agent or discriminate in the compensation of such employee or agent because of such employee's compliance with this Article or the Nebraska Fair Housing Act; and    

(8)  Induce or attempt to induce, for profit, any person to sell or rent any dwelling by representations regarding the entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons of a particular race, color, religion, national origin, handicap, familial status, or sex. 

The protections afforded against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any minor.  (Ref.  20-318 RS Neb.)    

§9-804    FAIR HOUSING; HANDICAPPED PERSON; DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES PROHIBITED; DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS. 

(1)  Except as exempted by section 9-807, it shall be unlawful to:    

(a)  Discriminate in the sale or rental of or otherwise make unavailable or deny a dwelling to any buyer or renter because of a handicap of:      

(i)  The buyer or renter;    

(ii) Any person associated with the buyer or renter; or (iii)A person residing in or intending to reside in the dwelling after it is so sold, rented, or made available; or

(b)  Discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with a dwelling because of a handicap of:     

(i)  Such person;  

(ii) Any person associated with such person; or   

(iii) A person residing in or intending to reside in the dwelling after it is so sold, rented, or made available.

(2)  For purposes of this section, discrimination shall include: 

(a) A refusal to permit, at the expense of the handicapped person reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by the person if the modifications may be necessary to afford the person full enjoyment of the premises, except that in the case of rental, the landlord may, when it is reasonable to do so, condition permission for a modification on the renter agreeing to restore the interior of the premises to the condition that existed before the modification, reasonable wear and tear excepted;

(b)  A refusal to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford the handicapped person equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling; and    

(c) In connection with the design and construction of covered multifamily dwellings for first occupancy after September 1, 1991, a failure to design and construct the dwellings in such a manner that:    

(i)  The public use and common use portions of the dwelling are readily accessible to and usable by handicapped persons; 

(ii)  All the doors designed to allow passage into and within all premises within the dwellings are sufficiently wide to allow passage by handicapped persons in wheelchairs; and  

(iii)  All premises within the dwellings contain the following features of adaptive design:

(A)  An accessible route into and through the dwelling;    

(B) Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls in accessible locations;  

(C)  Kitchens and bathrooms such that a handicapped person in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.    

(3) Compliance with the appropriate requirements of the American National Standards Institute standard for buildings and facilities providing accessibility and usability for physically handicapped people, ANSI A117.1, shall satisfy the requirements of subdivision (2)(c)(iii) of this section.           

(4)   For purposes of this section, covered multifamily dwellings shall mean:   

(a)  Buildings consisting of four or more units if such buildings have one or more elevators; and   

(b)  Ground floor units in other buildings consisting of four or more units.   

(5)  Nothing in this section shall require that a dwelling be made available to an individual whose tenancy would constitute a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals or whose tenancy would result in substantial physical damage to the property of others.   (Ref.  20-319 RS Neb.) 

§9-805  FAIR HOUSING; TRANSACTION RELATED TO RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE; DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES PROHIBITED.

(1)  It shall be unlawful for any person or other entity whose business includes engaging in transactions related to residential real estate to discriminate against any person in making available such a transaction because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.   

(2)  For purposes of this section, transaction related to residential real estate shall mean any of the following:

(a)  The making or purchasing of loans or providing other financial assistance:   

(i)  For purchasing, constructing, improving, repairing, or maintaining a dwelling; or   

(ii)  Secured by residential real estate; or 

(b)  The selling, brokering, or appraising of residential real property.

(3)  Nothing in this section shall prohibit a person engaged in the business of furnishing appraisals of real property from taking into consideration factors other than race, color, religion, national origin, handicap, familial status, or sex. (Ref.  20-320 RS Neb.)  

§9-806  FAIR HOUSING; MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE; OTHER SERVICE; DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES PROHIBITED. It shall be unlawful to deny any person access to or membership or participation in any multiple listing service, real estate brokers organization, or other service, organization or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings or to discriminate against any person in the terms or conditions of such access, membership, or participation on account of race, color, religion, national origin, handicap, familial status, or sex.  (Ref.  20-321 RS Neb.)

§9-807    FAIR HOUSING; RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION, PRIVATE HOME; PRIVATE CLUB, OR HOUSING FOR OLDER PERSONS; RESTRICTING USE NOT PROHIBITED. (1) Nothing in this Article shall prohibit a religious organization, association, or society or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society from limiting the sale, rental, or occupancy of a dwelling which it owns or operates for other than commercial purposes to persons of the same religion or from giving preferences to such persons unless membership in such religion is restricted on account of race, color, national origin, handicap, familial status, or sex.

(2)  Nothing in this Article shall prohibit a private club not in fact open to the public, which as an incident to its primary purpose or purposes provides lodgings which it owns or operates for other than commercial purposes, from limiting the rental or occupancy of such lodging to its members or from giving preference to its members.

(3)  Nothing in this Article shall prohibit or limit the right of any person or his or her authorized representative to refuse to rent a room or rooms in his or her own home for any reason or for no reason or to change tenants in his or her own home as often as desired, except that this exception shall not apply to any person who makes available for rental or occupancy more than four sleeping rooms to a person or family within his or her home.   

(4)  Nothing in this Article regarding familial status shall apply with respect to housing for older persons. For purposes of this subsection, housing for older persons shall mean housing:

(a)  Provided under any state program that the commission determines is specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons or defined in the program;  

(b)  Intended for and solely occupied by persons sixty-two (62) years of age or older; or    

(c)  Intended and operated for occupancy by at least one person fifty-five (55) years of age or older per unit. (Ref.  20-322 RS Neb.)  

§9-808 FAIR HOUSING; COMMISSION ESTABLISHED; APPOINTMENT; MEMBERSHIP; TERMS. There is hereby established the Fair Housing Commission which shall consist of five (5) members appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the City Council. Appointments shall take into consideration the various racial, religious, cultural, and social groups and geographical areas within the City of Falls City insofar as may be practicable. The term of appointment shall be three (3) years, except that for the purpose of maintaining an appropriate staggering of terms, the Mayor may prescribe a shorter term for any initial appointments. In the event a vacancy occurs in the membership of the commission by death, resignation, or otherwise prior to the normal expiration of the member's term, the Mayor with the approval of the City Council may appoint a person to serve out the remainder of the unexpired term.  

The Commission shall elect one (1) member to serve as Chairman. Three (3) members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of conducting the business thereof. Members of the Commission shall receive no compensation for their services, but shall be reimbursed for their expenses actually and necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties. Any member of the Commission may be removed from office by the Mayor with the approval of the City Council for misconduct, malfeasance in office, or neglect of office. No person shall serve on the Commission for more than six (6) years.  (Ref.  20-113 RS Neb.) 

§9-809 FAIR HOUSING; DISCRIMINATORY HOUSING PRACTICE; COMPLAINT; PROCEDURE; INVESTIGATION. 

(1)  An aggrieved person may, not later than one (1) year after an alleged discriminatory housing practice has occurred or terminated, file a complaint with the Commission alleging such discriminatory housing practice. The Commission, on its own initiative, may also file such a complaint. The complaint shall be in writing and shall contain such information and be in such form as the Commission requires. The Commission may also investigate housing practices to determine whether a complaint should be brought under this section.    

(2)  Upon the filing of a complaint, the Commission shall serve notice upon the aggrieved person acknowledging such filing and advising the aggrieved of the time limits and choice of forums provided under this Article. The Commission  shall, not later than ten (10) days after such filing or the identification of an additional respondent under subsection (4) of this section, serve on the respondent a notice identifying the alleged discriminatory housing practice and advising such respondent of the procedural rights and obligations of respondents under this Article, together with a copy of the original complaint. Each respondent may file, not later than ten (10) days after receipt of notice from the Commission, an answer to the complaint.  

(3)  Unless it is impracticable to do so, the Commission shall investigate the alleged discriminatory housing practice and complete such investigation within one hundred (100) days after the filing of the complaint or, when the Commission takes further action under Section 9-815, with respect to a complaint, within one hundred (100) days after the commencement of such further action. Complaints and answers shall be under oath and may be reasonably and fairly amended at any time.

(4)  A person who is not named as a respondent in a complaint but who is identified as a respondent in the course of investigation may be joined as an additional or substitute respondent upon written notice under subsection (2) of this section to such person from the Commission. The notice shall explain the basis for the Commission's belief that the person to whom the notice is addressed is properly joined as a respondent.  

(5)  The Commission may issue subpoenas and order discovery in aid of investigations and hearings under this Article. The subpoenas and discovery may be ordered to the same extent and subject to the same limitations as would apply if the subpoenas or discovery were ordered or served in aid of a civil action in the district court.   (Ref.  20-326, 20-334 RS Neb.)    

§9-810    FAIR HOUSING; COMPLAINT; CONCILIATION; AGREEMENT; CONTENTS; RESTRICTIONS. 

(1)  During the period beginning with the filing of the complaint and ending with the issuance of a charge or a dismissal by the Commission, the Commission shall, to the extent feasible, engage in conciliation with respect to the complaint.    

(2)  A conciliation agreement arising out of such conciliation shall be an agreement between the respondent and the complainant and shall be subject to approval by the Commission.   

(3)  A conciliation agreement may provide for binding arbitration of the dispute arising from the complaint.  Any such arbitration that results from a conciliation agreement may award appropriate relief, including monetary relief.   

(4)  Each conciliation agreement shall be made public unless the complainant and the respondent otherwise agree and the Commission determines that disclosure is not required to further the purposes of this Article.    

(5)  A conciliation agreement between the respondent and complainant which has been approved by the Commission shall not be deemed an adjudication that the respondent has committed a discriminatory housing practice nor shall the conciliation agreement be the subject of an order for relief under section 9-818, unless the conciliation agreement is entered after an adjudication pursuant to an administrative proceeding or a civil action pursuant to state or federal law in which the respondent was found to have committed a discriminatory housing practice.  (Ref.  20-327 RS Neb.)

§9-811   FAIR HOUSING; CONCILIATION PROCEEDINGS; INVESTIGATIONS; RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF INFORMATION.

(1)  Except as provided in subsection (4) of section 9-810, nothing said or done in the course of conciliation may be made public or used as evidence in a subsequent proceeding without written consent of the persons concerned.

(2)  Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, the Commission shall make available to the aggrieved person and the respondent at any time, upon request, information derived from an investigation and any final investigative report.  (Ref.  20-330 RS Neb.)  

§9-812  FAIR HOUSING; CONCILIATION AGREEMENT; BREACH; CIVIL ACTION AUTHORIZED.  Whenever the Commission has reasonable cause to believe that a respondent has breached a conciliation agreement, the Commission shall refer the matter to the City Attorney for filing of a civil action for enforcement of such agreement.  (Ref.  20-329 RS Neb.)

§9-813 FAIR HOUSING; FINAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT; CONTENTS; AMENDMENTS. At the end of each investigation of a complaint, the Commission shall prepare a final investigative report containing the names and dates of contacts with witnesses, a summary and the dates of correspondence and other contacts with the aggrieved person and the respondent, a summary description of other pertinent records, a summary of witness statements, and answers to interrogatories.  A final investigative report may be amended if additional evidence is later discovered.  (Ref.  20-328 RS Neb.)

§9-814  FAIR HOUSING; TEMPORARY OR PRELIMINARY RELIEF; OTHER PROCEEDINGS; ACTIONS AUTHORIZED.

(1)  If the Commission concludes at any time following the filing of a complaint that prompt judicial action is necessary to carry out the purposes of this Article, the Commission may authorize a civil action for appropriate temporary or preliminary relief pending final disposition of the complaint. Upon receipt of such an authorization, the City Attorney shall promptly commence and maintain such an action. Any temporary restraining order or other order granting preliminary or temporary relief shall be issued in accordance with section 25-1062 to 25-1080, RS Neb. The commencement of a civil action under this section shall not affect the initiation or continuation of administrative proceedings under section 17.    

(2)  Whenever the Commission has reason to believe that a basis may exist for proceedings by any governmental licensing or supervisory authorities, the Commission shall transmit the information upon which such belief is based to such authorities.  (Ref.  20-331 RS Neb.)    

§9-815    FAIR HOUSING; COMMISSION; DISCRIMINATORY HOUSING PRACTICE; DETERMINATION; CHARGE; SERVICE; DISMISSAL OF COMPLAINT.

(1)  The Commission shall, within one hundred (100) days after the filing of the complaint or after the commencement of further action, determine based on the facts whether reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred or is about to occur unless it is impracticable to do so or unless the Commission has approved a conciliation agreement with respect to the complaint. If the Commission is unable to make the determination within one hundred (100) days after the filing of the complaint or after the commencement of such further action, the Commission shall notify the complainant and respondent in writing of the reasons for not doing so.

(2)  If the Commission determines that reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred or is about to occur, the Commission shall immediately issue a charge on behalf of the aggrieved person for further proceedings under this Article. Such charge shall consist of a short and plain statement of the facts upon which the Commission has found reasonable cause to believe that a discriminatory practice has occurred or is about to occur, shall be based on the final investigative report, and need not be limited to the facts or grounds in the complaint.   

(3)  If the Commission determines that no reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred or is about to occur, the Commission shall promptly dismiss the complaint. The Commission shall make public disclosure of each such dismissal. The Commission may not issue a charge under this section regarding an alleged discriminatory housing practice after the filing of a civil action commenced by the aggrieved party under state or federal law seeking relief with respect to the discriminatory housing practice.   

(4)  After the Commission issues a charge under this section, the Commission shall cause a copy of the charge, together with information as to how to make an election under section 9-816, and the effect of such election to be served:  (a) on each respondent named in the charge, together with a notice of opportunity for a hearing at a time and place specified in the notice, unless such election is made; and (b) on each aggrieved person on whose behalf the complainant was filed.  (Ref.  20-333 RS Neb.)    

§9-816  FAIR HOUSING; CIVIL ACTION IN LIEU OF HEARING; ELECTION AUTHORIZED. When a charge is issued under section 9-815, a complainant, a respondent, or an aggrieved person on whose behalf the complaint was filed may elect to have claims asserted in that charge decided in a civil action in lieu of a hearing under section 9-817. The election must be made not later than twenty (20) days after service has been made under section 9-816. The persons making the election shall give notice of doing so to the Commission and to all other complainants and respondents to whom the charge relates.  (Ref.  20-335 RS Neb.)  

§9-817   FAIR HOUSING; HEARINGS; HEARING OFFICER; APPEARANCE; DISCONTINUANCE OF PROCEEDINGS; WHEN.

(1)  If an election is not made under section 9-816 with respect to a charge issued under section 9-815, the Commission shall provide an opportunity for a hearing on the record with respect to the charge. The Commission shall delegate the conduct of a hearing under this section to a hearing officer. The hearing officer shall meet the qualifications of a judge of the district court prescribed in section 24-301 or any successor statute. The hearing officer shall conduct the hearing at a place in the vicinity of the place where the discriminatory housing practice is alleged to have occurred or is about to occur.   

(2)  At the hearing each party may appear in person, be represented by counsel, present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and obtain the issuance of subpoenas. Any aggrieved person may intervene as a party in the proceeding. The rules of evidence shall apply to the presentation of evidence in such hearing as they would in a civil action in district court.    

(3)  Any resolution of a charge before issuance of a final order shall require the consent of the aggrieved person on whose behalf the charge is issued. A hearing officer may not continue administrative proceedings under this section regarding any alleged discriminatory housing practice after the filing of a civil action by the aggrieved party under state or federal law seeking relief with respect to that discriminatory housing practice. (Ref.  20-336 RS Neb.) 

§9-818  FAIR HOUSING; HEARING OFFICER; POWERS AND DUTIES; CIVIL PENALTIES; ORDER; EFFECT. 

(1)  The hearing officer shall commence the hearing no later than one hundred twenty (120) days following the issuance of the charge unless it is impracticable to do so.  If the hearing officer is unable to commence the hearing within one hundred twenty (120) days, he or she shall notify the Commission, the aggrieved person on whose behalf the charge was issued, and the respondent in writing of the reasons for not doing so.  

(2)  The hearing officer shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law within sixty (60) days after the end of the hearing unless it is impracticable to do so.  If the hearing officer is unable to make findings of fact and conclusions of law within such period or any succeeding sixty-day period thereafter, he or she shall notify the Commission, the aggrieved person on whose behalf the charge was issued, and the respondent in writing for not doing so.  

(3)  If the hearing officer finds that a respondent has engaged or is about to engage in a discriminatory housing practice, he or she shall promptly issue an order for such relief as may be appropriate which may include actual damages suffered by the aggrieved person and injunctive or other equitable relief. The order may, to vindicate the public interest, assess a civil penalty against the respondent in accordance with the provisions of section 20-337(3)(b) and (c).      

(4)  No such order shall affect any contract, sale, encumbrance, or lease consummated before the issuance of such order and involving a bona fide purchaser, encumbrancer, or tenant without actual notice of the charge.    

(5)  In the case of an order with respect to a discriminatory housing practice that occurred in the course of a business subject to licensing or regulation by a governmental agency, the Commission shall, not later than thirty (30) days after the date of issuance of the order or, if the order is judicially reviewed, thirty (30) days after the order is in substance affirmed upon such review send copies of the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and the order to that governmental agency.  

(6)  If the hearing officer finds that the respondent has not engaged or is not about to engage in a discriminatory housing practice, he or she shall enter an order dismissing the charge.  The Commission shall make public disclosure of each such dismissal.  (Ref.  20-337 RS Neb.)    

§9-819    FAIR HOUSING; ORDER; REVIEW; FINAL ORDER, SERVICE. 

(1)  The Commission may review any finding, conclusion, or order issued under section 18. The review shall be completed not later than thirty (30) days after the finding, conclusion, or order is so issued or the finding, conclusion, or order will become final.

(2)  The Commission shall cause the findings of fact and conclusions of law made with respect to any final order for relief, together with a copy of such order, to be served on each aggrieved person and each respondent in the proceeding. (Ref.  20-338 RS Neb.)   

§9-820    FAIR HOUSING; APPEAL; ENFORCEMENT; PROCEDURE.

(1)  Any party aggrieved by a final order granting or denying in whole or in part the relief sought may appeal the order.  Proceedings for review shall be instituted by filing a petition in the District Court within thirty (30) days after service of the final decision.   

(2)  The Commission may petition the District Court or the district court in the county in which the respondent resides or transacts business for the enforcement of the order of the hearing officer and for appropriate temporary relief or restraining order. The Commission shall file in court with the petition the record in the proceeding.  (Ref.  20-339 RS Neb.)

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