It’s a fairly standard advertisement. But for years, many scholars and lawyers have thought it constitutes illegal sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. In Fair Housing Council v. roommate.com, a recent opinion by Alex Kozinski and joined by Stephen Reinhardt (so there’s your first surprise), the 9th Circuit has said that such ads are permissible.
I realize that this isn’t strictly an environmental question, but the case is interesting for the creative moves it makes on statutory interpretation, and in any event, I’m assuming that lots of Legal Planet readers either teach Property or deal with property law in their practices, so it might of interest to our readers.
The problem actually serves as a hypothetical in the Dukeminier casebook: is it a violation to advertise for a “female roommate”? Students frequently rebel against the standard answer: yes. So did the 9th Circuit, and here is its chain of reasoning:
1) The FHA forbids discrimination “with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling”; so what is a “dwelling”?
2) The opinion says that the FHA “stops at the apartment door”, essentially meaning that a “dwelling” means any individual’s unit, be it one room of an apartment, or even one chunk of ...
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