H. B. 2991
(By Delegates Marshall and Moore)
(By Request of the Human Rights Commission)
[Introduced January 11, 2012; referred to the
Committee on the Judic
A BILL to amend and reenact §5-11A-3, §5-11A-5, §5-11A-6 and §5-11A-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to the West Virginia Fair Housing Act; adjusting the West Virginia Fair Housing Act to realign it with the federal Fair Housing Act with regard to support animals; and substituting the term disability for the term handicap.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §5-11A-3, §5-11A-5, §5-11A-6 and §5-11A-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 11A. WEST VIRGINIA FAIR HOUSING ACT.
As used in this article:
(a) "Commission" means the West Virginia Human Rights Commission;
(b) "Dwelling" means any building, structure or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence or sleeping place by one or more persons or 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;
(c) "Family" includes a single individual;
(d) "Person" includes one or more individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, labor organizations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees, trustees in cases under Title 11 of the United States Code, receivers and fiduciaries;
(e) "To rent" includes to lease, to sublease, to let and otherwise to grant for a consideration the right to occupy premises not owned by the occupant;
(f) "Discriminatory housing practice" means an act that is unlawful under section five, six, seven or nineteen of this article;
(g) "Handicap" “Disability” means, with respect to a person:
(1) A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such the person's major life activities;
(2) A record of having such an impairment; or
(3) Being regarded as having such an impairment, but such the term does not include current, illegal use of or addiction to a controlled substance, as defined in Section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act, Title 21, United States Code, Section 802;
(h) "Aggrieved person" includes any person who:
(1) Claims to have been injured by a discriminatory housing practice; or
(2) Believes that such the person will be injured by a discriminatory housing practice that is about to occur;
(i) "Complainant" means the person, including the commission, who files a complaint under section eleven of this article;
(j) "Familial status" means:
(1) One or more individuals who have not attained the age of eighteen years being domiciled with:
(A) A parent or another person having legal custody of such the individual or individuals; or
(B) The designee of such the parent or other person having such custody of the individual with the written permission of such the parent or other person; or
(2) Any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any individual who has not attained the age of eighteen years;
(k) "Conciliation" means the attempted resolution of issues raised by a complaint or by the investigation of such the complaint through informal negotiations involving the aggrieved person, the respondent and the commission;
(l) "Conciliation agreement" means a written agreement setting forth the resolution of the issues in conciliation;
(m) "Respondent" means:
(1) The person or other entity accused in a complaint of an unfair housing practice; and
(2) Any other person or entity identified in the course of investigation and notified as required with respect to respondents so identified under subsection (a), section eleven of this article;
(n) The term "rooming house" means a house or building where there are one or more bedrooms which the proprietor can spare for the purpose of giving lodgings to such persons as he or she chooses to receive; and
(o) The term “basic universal design” means the design of products and environments to be useable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialization.
(p) The term “assistance animal” means any service animal or emotional support animal with or without specific training or certification, or both, which is kept and used by a person with a disability to perform one or more major life activities or to ease or ameliorate the effects of its master’s disability.
§5-11A-5. Discrimination in sale or rental of housing and other prohibited practices.
As made applicable by section four of this article and except as exempted by sections four and eight of this article, it shall be is unlawful:
(a) To refuse to sell or rent after the making of a bona fide offer, or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person because of race, color, religion, ancestry, sex, familial status, blindness, handicap disability or national origin;
(b) To 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, ancestry, sex, familial status, blindness, handicap disability or national origin;
(c) To make, print or 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, sex, blindness, handicap disability, familial status, ancestry or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination;
(d) To represent to any person because of race, color, religion, sex, blindness, handicap disability, familial status, ancestry or national origin that any dwelling is not available for inspection, sale or rental when such the dwelling is in fact so available;
(e) For profit, to induce or attempt to induce 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, sex, blindness, handicap disability, familial status, ancestry or national origin; or
(f) (1) To discriminate in the sale or rental, or to otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any buyer or renter because of a handicap disability of: (A) That buyer or renter; (B) a person residing in or intending to reside in that dwelling after it is so sold, rented or made available; or (C) any person associated with that buyer or renter.
(2) To 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 such the dwelling, because of a handicap disability of: (A) That person; (B) a person residing in or intending to reside in that dwelling after it is so sold, rented or made available; or (C) any person associated with that person.
(3) For purposes of this subdivision, discrimination includes:
(A) A refusal to permit, at the expense of the handicapped disabled person, reasonable modifications of existing premises occupied or to be occupied by such the person if such the modifications may be necessary to afford such the person full enjoyment of the premises, except that, in the case of a rental, the landlord may where 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 the accommodations may be necessary to afford such the person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling; or
(C) In connection with the design and construction of covered multifamily dwellings for first occupancy after the date that is thirty months after the date of enactment of the West Virginia Fair Housing Act, a failure to design and construct those dwellings in such a manner that:
(i) The public use and common use portions of such the dwellings are readily accessible to and usable by handicapped disabled persons;
(ii) All the doors designed to allow passage into and within all premises within such the dwellings are sufficiently wide to allow passage by handicapped disabled persons in wheelchairs; and
(iii) All premises within such the dwellings contain the following features of adaptive design: (I) An accessible route into and through the dwelling; (II) light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls in accessible locations; (III) reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars; and (IV) usable kitchens and bathrooms such that an individual in a wheelchair can maneuver about the space.
(4) Compliance with the appropriate requirements of the American National Standard for Buildings and Facilities Providing Accessibility and Usability for Physically Handicapped People, commonly cited as ANSI A117.1, suffices to satisfy the requirements of subparagraph (3)(C)(iii) of this subdivision.
(5)(A) If a unit of general local government has incorporated into its laws the requirements set forth in subparagraph (3)(C) of this subdivision, compliance with such those laws shall be deemed to satisfy the requirements of that subparagraph.
(B) The commission or unit of general local government may review and approve newly constructed covered multifamily dwellings for the purpose of making determinations as to whether the design and construction requirements of subparagraph (3)(C) of this subdivision are met.
(C) The commission shall encourage, but may not require, units of local government to include in their existing procedures for the review and approval of newly constructed covered multifamily dwellings, determinations as to whether the design and construction of such dwellings are consistent with subparagraph (3)(C) of this subdivision, and may provide technical assistance to units of local government and other persons to implement the requirements of such that subparagraph.
(D) Nothing in this article shall be construed to require requires the commission to review or approve the plans, designs or construction of all covered multifamily dwellings to determine whether the design and construction of such the dwellings are consistent with the requirements of subparagraph (3)(C) of this subdivision.
(6) (A) Nothing in paragraph (5) of this subdivision shall be construed to affect affects the authority and responsibility of the commission or a local public agency to receive and process complaints or otherwise engage in enforcement activities under this article.
(B) Determinations by a unit of general local government under subparagraphs (5)(A) and (B) of this subdivision shall are not be conclusive in enforcement proceedings under this article.
(7) As used in this section, the term "covered multifamily dwellings" means: (A) Buildings consisting of four or more units if such the buildings have one or more elevators; and (B) ground floor units in other buildings consisting of four or more units.
(8) Nothing in this article shall be construed to invalidate or limit invalidates or limits any law of this state or any political subdivision hereof of this state that requires dwellings to be designed and constructed in a manner that affords handicapped disabled persons greater access than is required by this article.
(9) Nothing in This section requires does not 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. The burden of proving such threat to health or safety or the likelihood of such damage shall be is upon the respondent.
(10) (A) For the purposes of this subdivision, rules, policies, practices or services regarding pets are subject to the reasonable accommodation requirements of subparagaph (B), paragraph (3), of this subdivision: Provided, That in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation to the rules, policies or services, a person with a disability may be required to provide supporting material documenting the need for the assistance animal.
(B) A person with a disability may be refused the accommodation of an assistance animal if there is credible evidence that the assistance animal would be a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
(C) A person with a disability who keeps or uses an assistance animal is responsible for seeing that the assistance animal lives in the dwelling of the person without disturbing the property or quiet enjoyment of the property owner or the person’s neighbors and is liable for any damage caused by the assistance animal.
§5-11A-6. Discrimination in residential real estate-related transactions.
(a) It shall be is unlawful for any person or other entity whose business includes engaging in residential real estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person in making available such a transaction or in the terms or conditions of such a transaction because of race, color, religion, sex, blindness, handicap disability, familial status, ancestry or national origin.
(b) As used in this section, the term "residential real estate-related transaction" means any of the following:
(1) The making or purchasing of loans or providing other financial assistance: (A) For purchasing, constructing, improving, repairing or maintaining a dwelling; or (B) secured by residential real estate; or
(2) The selling, brokering or appraising of residential real property.
(c) Nothing in this article prohibits a person engaged in the business of furnishing appraisals of real property to take into consideration factors other than race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, blindness, handicap disability or familial status.
§5-11A-7. Discrimination in provision of brokerage services.
It shall be is unlawful to deny any person access to or membership or participation in any multiple listing service, real estate broker's organization or other service, organization or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings, or to discriminate against him or her in the terms or conditions of such access, membership or participation on account of race, color, religion, sex, blindness, handicap disability, familial status, ancestry or national origin.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to adjust the West Virginia Fair Housing Act to realign it with the federal Fair Housing Act with regard to support animals. The bill also substitutes the term disability for the term handicap in the West Virginia Fair Housing Act.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.