A New Protected Class and Updates on State Legislation

Posted by Stephen Marshall on

Greetings from a very icy Lexington, Kentucky. We’ve had some new developments that I wanted to update you about:

(ANOTHER) NEW FAIR HOUSING EXECUTIVE ORDER 

President Biden also signed an Executive Order asking federal government agencies to review laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex and to enforce those laws against discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. 

In response, earlier today HUD issued a memo that they would be interpreting the Fair Housing Act as prohibiting housing discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity throughout the country. HUD and its state and local agencies will now be accepting claims based on those two factors from as far back as January 20, 2020.

So, for now, we effectively have an eighth federally protected class: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. This is not a change for Lexington, Louisville, and the other cities and counties in Kentucky that have already passed local ordinances prohibiting housing discrimination based on those factors, but it is a major change for the other areas in the state. Tenants and applicants everywhere in the country may now sue landlords for housing discrimination based on those factors.

Here’s how Lexington’s ordinance defines those groups:

Sexual Orientation: A person is protected based on his or her actual or imputed heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bi-sexuality.

Gender Identity: A person is protected because of having a gender identity because of a sex-change surgery, or manifesting, for reasons other than dress, an identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness. 

STATE LEGISLATION 

The state legislature has been in session since January. It’s a short session this year, so most of the attention has been on issues related to COVID-19. Here are a few pieces of legislation to be aware of:

Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 10 – These are both bills directed at limiting liability for property owners whose businesses and properties were required to remain open during a state of emergency, such as COVID-19. The gist of each bill is that property owners would not be liable for alleged injuries that occurred as a result of the issue that led to the state of emergency as long as the owner was not grossly negligent in following the health and safety guidelines that were in place at the time.  

HB 10 is the simpler of the two bills. It easily passed through the House and is now being considered by the Senate. Click here to read SB 5 and here to read HB 10.

House Bill 30 – This bill would allow property managers and other agents of the property owner to file and prosecute evictions for the owner. This bill has not moved out of the House committee. Click here to read HB 30. 

Senate Bill 11 – This bill revises the definition of Criminal Mischief to include the intentional or reckless destruction of residential rental property. Such activity would explicitly be a criminal offense and, if the damage is $1,000.00 or more, would be a felony.

SB 11 passed easily through the Senate and has moved to the House for consideration, where it is expected to pass. There is some potential for a veto by the Governor. This bill seems to keep getting called an “eviction bill”, even though it has nothing to do with evictions. So, we’ll keep an eye on that one. Click here to read SB 11. 

That’s it for today. I hope you’re staying safe during these snowy and icy days. You can reach me at (859) 685-0035 or at smarshall@tripleslaw.com if you have questions or need help with anything.


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