Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, also known as “The Fair Housing Act”, covers all housing activities including those that are federally-assisted
LEP and Fair Housing Video explaining the obligations housing providers have to limited English proficient persons.
HUD Office of General Counsel Guidance on LEP
On September 15, 2016 HUD issued Office of General Counsel Guidance on Fair Housing Act Protections for Persons with Limited English Proficiency. This guidance applies to all housing including federally-assisted housing activities.
The Limited English Proficiency Plan (LEPP)
In cases involving discrimination based on a person’s limited English proficiency, HUD typically directs that a LEPP be adopted by the housing provider. The LEPP can also serve as a policy and procedures document that can be adopted as a preventative measure to help avoid Fair Housing violations related to limited English proficiency.
A Limited English Proficiency Plan template is provided here to assist managers of non-assisted housing.
The Fair Housing Poster
Idaho landlords should display the Fair Housing Poster in at least English and Spanish. In other markets, it can be displayed in more languages.
Language Identification and Interpretation
Providers of non-assisted housing are not required to display a language identification poster or “I speak…” cards. If a LEP person has not brought their own interpreter, the “I Speak …” card and Language Identification Posters are valuable tools that can help you identify the language assistance needed.
There is an “I speak…” card available for download on the Intermountain Fair Housing Council website. Another option for interpretation can be machine interpretation (see “Using Machine Interpretation and Translation Apps by Non-assisted Housing Providers” below)
A housing provider must allow a client to have their own interpreter who is usually a friend or family member. A housing provider is obligated to provide interpretation when it is free or low-cost. Typically, this might be when there is bilingual staff or when free or low-cost is available from sources in the community (e.g. volunteers, public service agencies, colleges/universities, etc.). A housing provider should maintain a list of local interpreters that provide this service.
Providing for language interpretation is be a best management practice and a customer service feature that gives a housing provider a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Using Machine Interpretation and Translation Apps in Non-Assisted Housing
Google Translate is one of the machine interpretation tools available at no cost to users. Google Translate or one of the many downloadable apps to mobile devices can be helpful in communicating with people in their own language. These tools provide some level of communication, but a user should not rely on the interpretations or translations to be competent.
In a non-federally assisted setting, there can be much more latitude in the use of machine interpretation and translation apps. The accuracy of machine interpretation and translation continues to improve, and they can be helpful in establishing rapport with clients that do not speak English.
A user should be aware of consumer protections that might restrict the use of machine interpretation and translation apps in certain situations (e.g. adverse situations that could result in the loss of housing). It should be noted that these apps do not provide secure communication and data is likely to be collected.