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We have learned that a very large number of members and at least one local association have received demand letters and complaints from a law firm alleging violations of the federal and Florida Fair Housing Acts. The firm alleges that the members' and the association’s websites fail to provide accessibility options for the disabled.
These notices have been received by members statewide. Though it does not appear that the actual complaints have been filed in federal court at this point, the demand letters threaten litigation. If an association receives such a letter, the association should contact the local board attorney and the National Association of Realtors® immediately. If a member receives such a letter, the member should contact their broker and attorney. Deciding whether to fight a demand or settle a claim is a legal decision.
Also, check with your web designer to determine what accessibility features your current website offers. Compare that information to the allegations in the demand letter.
Realtors need to make their websites usable by persons with disabilities. However, there is still an increasing number of cases against businesses, including Realtors, that are being brought as lawsuits for non-compliance.
What can Realtors and brokers do to protect themselves in these situations?
Contact your website administrator or hire an IT expert to audit the website and suggest accessibility improvements such as:
For additional information on the Fair Housing Act, members can call the Florida Realtors® Legal Hotline at 407-438-1409.