What is the legal authority for substantial equivalence certification?
What types of organizations are eligible to apply for substantial equivalence certification?
Substantial equivalence certification is authorized by Section 810(f) and Section 817 of the federal Fair Housing Act. The regulations governing substantial equivalence are located at 24 CFR Part 115.
When revising a fair housing law with the goal of substantial equivalence certification, agencies should rely upon to the entire federal Fair Housing Act and its implementing regulations.
Section 810(f) of the federal Fair Housing Act limits the receipt of substantial equivalence certification to public agencies. Therefore, private organizations are not eligible. A State or local government agency with the authority to administer a fair housing law may apply for and obtain substantial equivalence certification. In considering eligibility, HUD may also take into consideration whether the jurisdiction is already served by a FHAP agency.
How does an agency request substantial equivalence certification?
A request for substantial equivalence certification must be submitted to HUD by the official having the principal responsibility for the administration of the State or local fair housing law.
The request must include the text of the fair housing statute or ordinance and any pertinent regulations, rules, directives or formal opinions by the jurisdiction's chief legal officer. In addition, the name and contact information (including address, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address) for the person at the State or local agency that HUD should speak to about changes to the law must be included. An agency should direct its request for substantial equivalence to:
The Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410
What is HUD's procedure for reviewing a request for substantial equivalence certification?
Upon receipt of a request for substantial equivalence certification, the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) will review the request for completeness, acknowledge receipt of the request and, if necessary, secure additional information from the agency. With the assistance of HUD's Office of General Counsel, FHEO will then conduct a legal review of the agency's law to determine if it meets the criteria set forth in 24 CFR Section 115.204 (i.e., whether the law, on its face, provides substantive rights, procedures, remedies and the availability of judicial review that are substantially equivalent to the federal Fair Housing Act).
Following the legal review, FHEO may inform the agency of HUD's intent to offer interim certification. Alternatively, if HUD's legal review indicates that the law does not meet the criteria set forth in 24 CFR Section 115.204, FHEO will forward a legal analysis to the agency that identifies deficiencies in its law and how it may cure the deficiencies in its law (e.g., through amendment or through the enactment of rules, regulations or other policy guidance).
The agency may utilize the legal analysis as a guide in revising its legislation and resubmit another version to the Department for review. Resubmissions to HUD for legal analysis must include an entire copy of the agency's fair housing law, even if the State or local agency made only minor changes to the law. The agency should assure that deficiencies are corrected in subsequent legislation forwarded to HUD.
Please note that HUD will review an agency's proposed legislation. However, before HUD offers an agency interim certification we must review an agency's enacted fair housing legislation.
Additional questions about substantial equivalence certification should be directed to Kenneth J. Carroll at (202) 402-7044 .