HUD moves forward with push to change fair housing rule
WASHINGTON – Aug. 14, 2018 – Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), proposed on Monday new changes to an Obama-era rule aimed at combating segregation in housing policy.

Carson is proposing the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule (AFFH), focused more on reducing the regulatory burdens of local jurisdictions and giving them more control, while encouraging actions that bolster housing choice and increase housing supply.

In a statement, Carson said the AFFH rule, enacted during the previous administration, "often dictated unworkable requirements" adding that the rule was also "suffocating investment in some of our most distressed neighborhoods."

"We do not have to abandon communities in need. Instead we believe we can craft a new, fairer rule that creates choices for quality housing across all communities," Carson said.

The 2015 AFFH rule was implemented to strengthen the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act. The rule, which required communities and local governments receiving federal funding to submit fair housing assessments, was a way for HUD to ensure recipients were following the law and actively working to eradicate historical discrimination and segregation practices in housing. The changes encompassed in the rule were recommended by the Government Accountability Office and by HUD itself.

"Since issuance of the final rule, however, HUD has concluded that the current regulations are ineffective in helping program participants to meet this obligation," according to a HUD's rule change proposal.

As it explores the rule change, HUD is also accepting comments from the public for the next 60 days.

HUD officials also said informal listening forums will be held to get input from city planners, public housing authorities, housing advocates authorities and other stakeholders on the pending rule change.

The push by current HUD officials to undo the Obama-era AFFH rule has been expected for some time. In January, the housing agency announced it was suspending local governments' obligation to comply with the rule until late 2020.

In May, HUD nixed a computer assessment tool which was supposed to help municipalities submit housing data and ensure they were complying with the federal laws.

HUD said at the time "the Local Government Assessment Tool was confusing, difficult to use and frequently produced unacceptable assessments."

Earlier that month, a group of fair housing advocates filed a suit to compel Carson and HUD to implement the 2015 AFFH rule.

Madison Sloan is the director of Disaster Recovery and Fair Housing with Texas Appleseed, one of the plaintiffs in the suit against HUD. "This notice is part of HUD's continuing attempt to gut the Fair Housing Act, allowing public money to fund discrimination and segregation in violation of the law," Sloan said in a statement.

Copyright © 2018 NPR, Brakkton Booker; © KPCC - 89.3 FM; Copyright © 2018 SCPR. All rights reserved.

If neighbors share a wall, who fixes mutual problems?


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Aug. 17, 2018 – Question: I live in a townhome in a homeowners association where there are four units attached on each parcel by an archway. I have bees in the wall of the archway that need to be removed. My neighbor says that the association is responsible because the problem is not within the four walls of our units. The association says it is my responsibility. Who is correct? – Joel

Answer: While neighbors may have good information to share with you, they are not considered a recognized authority. And, all too often, even the board of your association can be working under a misunderstanding of what your governing documents actually say. I have lost count of the times an association was trying to enforce a restriction that only exists in their "understanding" of the rules.

To get to the bottom of this, you will need to review the documents to see what they actually say. Association rules are, in reality, nothing more than a contract between you and your neighbors, and the only way to know what is in a contract is to read it.

Homes, such as yours, that share a wall or fixture are governed by either the community documents, or a private "party wall agreement" between you and your direct neighbor. If, for some reason, your community documents are silent on this sort of maintenance issue, and there is no party wall agreement in place, the general provisions of law – what lawyers call "common law" – will give you the answer.

Under common law, a problem such as yours will be split equally between the two landowners that share the problem.

This means that unless your community's governing documents state the association is responsible, you and your next-door neighbor are on the hook. If your neighbor is not cooperative in resolving the issue, you will need to take care of it and look to your neighbor for reimbursement of half the cost.

Worst-case scenario, you may need to sue your neighbor to be reimbursed and, depending on the cost of the bee removal, it may not be worth it to make an enemy of your neighbor with a lawsuit.

About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

© 2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Gary M. Singer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.