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e-CFR data is current as of July 31, 2020

Title 24Subtitle BChapter ISubchapter APart 115 → Subpart B


Title 24: Housing and Urban Development
PART 115—CERTIFICATION AND FUNDING OF STATE AND LOCAL FAIR HOUSING ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES


Subpart B—Certification of Substantially Equivalent Agencies


Contents
§115.200   Purpose.
§115.201   The two phases of substantial equivalency certification.
§115.202   Request for interim certification.
§115.203   Interim certification procedures.
§115.204   Criteria for adequacy of law.
§115.205   Certification procedures.
§115.206   Performance assessments; Performance standards.
§115.207   Consequences of interim certification and certification.
§115.208   Procedures for renewal of certification.
§115.209   Technical assistance.
§115.210   Performance deficiency procedures; Suspension; Withdrawal.
§115.211   Changes limiting effectiveness of agency's law; Corrective actions; Suspension; Withdrawal; Consequences of repeal; Changes not limiting effectiveness.
§115.212   Request after withdrawal.

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§115.200   Purpose.

This subpart implements section 810(f) of the Fair Housing Act. The purpose of this subpart is to set forth:

(a) The basis for agency interim certification and certification;

(b) Procedures by which a determination is made to grant interim certification or certification;

(c) How the Department will evaluate the performance of an interim and certified agency;

(d) Procedures that the Department will utilize when an interim or certified agency performs deficiently;

(e) Procedures that the Department will utilize when there are changes limiting the effectiveness of an interim or certified agency's law;

(f) Procedures for renewal of certification; and

(g) Procedures when an agency requests interim certification or certification after a withdrawal.

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§115.201   The two phases of substantial equivalency certification.

Substantial equivalency certification is granted if the Department determines that a state or local agency enforces a law that is substantially equivalent to the Fair Housing Act with regard to substantive rights, procedures, remedies, and the availability of judicial review. The Department has developed a two-phase process of substantial equivalency certification.

(a) Adequacy of Law. In the first phase, the Assistant Secretary will determine whether, on its face, the fair housing law that the agency administers provides rights, procedures, remedies, and the availability of judicial review that are substantially equivalent to those provided in the federal Fair Housing Act. An affirmative conclusion may result in the Department offering the agency interim certification. An agency must obtain interim certification prior to obtaining certification.

(b) Adequacy of Performance. In the second phase, the Assistant Secretary will determine whether, in operation, the fair housing law that the agency administers provides rights, procedures, remedies, and the availability of judicial review that are substantially equivalent to those provided in the federal Fair Housing Act. An affirmative conclusion will result in the Department offering the agency certification.

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§115.202   Request for interim certification.

(a) A request for interim certification under this subpart shall be filed with the Assistant Secretary by the state or local official having principal responsibility for the administration of the state or local fair housing law. The request shall be supported by the text of the jurisdiction's fair housing law, the law creating and empowering the agency, all laws referenced in the jurisdiction's fair housing law, any regulations and directives issued under the law, and any formal opinions of the State Attorney General or the chief legal officer of the jurisdiction that pertain to the jurisdiction's fair housing law. A request shall also include organizational information of the agency responsible for administering and enforcing the law.

(b) The request and supporting materials shall be filed with the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20410-2000. The Assistant Secretary shall forward a copy of the request and supporting materials to the appropriate FHEO regional director. A copy of the request and supporting materials will be kept available for public examination and copying at:

(1) The office of the Assistant Secretary; and

(2) The office of the state or local agency charged with administration and enforcement of the state or local fair housing law.

(c) Upon receipt of a request, HUD will analyze the agency's fair housing law to determine whether it meets the criteria identified in §115.204.

(d) HUD shall review a request for interim certification from a local agency located in a state with an interim certified or certified substantially equivalent state agency. However, in the request for interim certification, the local agency must certify that the substantially equivalent state law does not prohibit the local agency from administering and enforcing its own fair housing law within the locality.

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§115.203   Interim certification procedures.

(a) Upon receipt of a request for interim certification filed under §115.202, the Assistant Secretary may request further information necessary for a determination to be made under this section. The Assistant Secretary may consider the relative priority given to fair housing administration, as compared to the agency's other duties and responsibilities, as well as the compatibility or potential conflict of fair housing objectives with these other duties and responsibilities.

(b) If the Assistant Secretary determines, after application of the criteria set forth in §115.204, that the state or local law, on its face, provides substantive rights, procedures, remedies, and judicial review procedures for alleged discriminatory housing practices that are substantially equivalent to those provided in the Act, the Assistant Secretary may offer to enter into an Agreement for the Interim Referral of Complaints and Other Utilization of Services (interim agreement). The interim agreement will outline the procedures and authorities upon which the interim certification is based.

(c) Such interim agreement, after it is signed by all appropriate signatories, will result in the agency receiving interim certification. Appropriate signatories include the Assistant Secretary, the FHEO regional director, and the state or local official having principal responsibility for the administration of the state or local fair housing law.

(d) Interim agreements shall be for a term of no more than three years.

(e) All regulations, rules, directives, and/or opinions of the State Attorney General or the jurisdiction's chief legal officer that are necessary for the law to be substantially equivalent on its face must be enacted and effective in order for the Assistant Secretary to offer the agency an interim agreement.

(f) Interim certification required prior to certification. An agency is required to obtain interim certification prior to obtaining certification.

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§115.204   Criteria for adequacy of law.

(a) In order for a determination to be made that a state or local fair housing agency administers a law, which, on its face, provides rights and remedies for alleged discriminatory housing practices that are substantially equivalent to those provided in the Act, the law must:

(1) Provide for an administrative enforcement body to receive and process complaints and provide that:

(i) Complaints must be in writing;

(ii) Upon the filing of a complaint, the agency shall serve notice upon the complainant acknowledging the filing and advising the complainant of the time limits and choice of forums provided under the law;

(iii) Upon the filing of a complaint, the agency shall promptly serve notice on the respondent or person charged with the commission of a discriminatory housing practice advising of his or her procedural rights and obligations under the statute or ordinance, together with a copy of the complaint;

(iv) A respondent may file an answer to a complaint.

(2) Delegate to the administrative enforcement body comprehensive authority, including subpoena power, to investigate the allegations of complaints, and power to conciliate complaints, and require that:

(i) The agency commences proceedings with respect to the complaint before the end of the 30th day after receipt of the complaint;

(ii) The agency investigates the allegations of the complaint and complete the investigation within the timeframe established by section 810(a)(1)(B)(iv) of the Act or comply with the notification requirements of section 810(a)(1)(C) of the Act;

(iii) The agency make final administrative disposition of a complaint within one year of the date of receipt of a complaint, unless it is impracticable to do so. If the agency is unable to do so, it shall notify the parties, in writing, of the reasons for not doing so;

(iv) Any conciliation agreement arising out of conciliation efforts by the agency shall be an agreement between the respondent, the complainant, and the agency and shall require the approval of the agency;

(v) Each conciliation agreement shall be made public, unless the complainant and respondent otherwise agree and the agency determines that disclosure is not required to further the purpose of the law.

(3) Not place excessive burdens on the aggrieved person that might discourage the filing of complaints, such as:

(i) A provision that a complaint must be filed within any period of time less than 180 days after an alleged discriminatory practice has occurred or terminated;

(ii) Anti-testing provisions;

(iii) Provisions that could subject an aggrieved person to costs, criminal penalties, or fees in connection with the filing of complaints.

(4) Not contain exemptions that substantially reduce the coverage of housing accommodations as compared to section 803 of the Act.

(5) Provide the same protections as those afforded by sections 804, 805, 806, and 818 of the Act, consistent with HUD's implementing regulations found at 24 CFR part 100.

(b) In addition to the factors described in paragraph (a) of this section, the provisions of the state or local law must afford administrative and judicial protection and enforcement of the rights embodied in the law.

(1) The agency must have the authority to:

(i) Grant or seek prompt judicial action for appropriate temporary or preliminary relief pending final disposition of a complaint, if such action is necessary to carry out the purposes of the law;

(ii) Issue and seek enforceable subpoenas;

(iii) Grant actual damages in an administrative proceeding or provide adjudication in court at agency expense to allow the award of actual damages to an aggrieved person;

(iv) Grant injunctive or other equitable relief, or be specifically authorized to seek such relief in a court of competent jurisdiction;

(v) Provide an administrative proceeding in which a civil penalty may be assessed or provide adjudication in court, at agency expense, allowing the assessment of punitive damages against the respondent.

(2) If an agency's law offers an administrative hearing, the agency must also provide parties an election option substantially equivalent to the election provisions of section 812 of the Act.

(3) Agency actions must be subject to judicial review upon application by any party aggrieved by a final agency order.

(4) Judicial review of a final agency order must be in a court with authority to:

(i) Grant to the petitioner, or to any other party, such temporary relief, restraining order, or other order as the court determines is just and proper;

(ii) Affirm, modify, or set aside, in whole or in part, the order, or remand the order for further proceeding; and

(iii) Enforce the order to the extent that the order is affirmed or modified.

(c) The requirement that the state or local law prohibit discrimination on the basis of familial status does not require that the state or local law limit the applicability of any reasonable local, state, or federal restrictions regarding the maximum number of occupants permitted to occupy a dwelling.

(d) The state or local law may assure that no prohibition of discrimination because of familial status applies to housing for older persons, as described in 24 CFR part 100, subpart E.

(e) A determination of the adequacy of a state or local fair housing law “on its face” is intended to focus on the meaning and intent of the text of the law, as distinguished from the effectiveness of its administration. Accordingly, this determination is not limited to an analysis of the literal text of the law. Regulations, directives, rules of procedure, judicial decisions, or interpretations of the fair housing law by competent authorities will be considered in making this determination.

(f) A law will be found inadequate “on its face” if it permits any of the agency's decision-making authority to be contracted out or delegated to a non-governmental authority. For the purposes of this paragraph, “decision-making authority” includes but is not limited to:

(1) Acceptance of a complaint;

(2) Approval of a conciliation agreement;

(3) Dismissal of a complaint;

(4) Any action specified in §115.204(a)(2)(iii) or (b)(1); and

(5) Any decision-making regarding whether a particular matter will or will not be pursued.

(g) The state or local law must provide for civil enforcement of the law by an aggrieved person by the commencement of an action in an appropriate court at least one year after the occurrence or termination of an alleged discriminatory housing practice. The court must be empowered to:

(1) Award the plaintiff actual and punitive damages;

(2) Grant as relief, as it deems appropriate, any temporary or permanent injunction, temporary restraining order or other order; and

(3) Allow reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

(h) If a state or local law is different than the Act in a way that does not diminish coverage of the Act, including, but not limited to, the protection of additional prohibited bases, then the state or local law may still be found substantially equivalent.

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§115.205   Certification procedures.

(a) Certification. (1) If the Assistant Secretary determines, after application of criteria set forth in §§115.204, 115.206, and this section, that the state or local law, both “on its face” and “in operation,” provides substantive rights, procedures, remedies, and judicial review procedures for alleged discriminatory housing practices that are substantially equivalent to those provided in the Act, the Assistant Secretary may enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the agency.

(2) The MOU is a written agreement providing for the referral of complaints to the agency and for communication procedures between the agency and HUD that are adequate to permit the Assistant Secretary to monitor the agency's continuing substantial equivalency certification.

(3) The MOU, after it is signed by all appropriate signatories, may authorize an agency to be a certified agency for a period of not more than five years. Appropriate signatories include the Assistant Secretary, the FHEO regional director, and the authorized employee(s) of the agency.

(b) In order to receive certification, during the 60 days prior to the expiration of the agency's interim agreement, the agency must certify to the Assistant Secretary that the state or local fair housing law, “on its face,” continues to be substantially equivalent to the Act (i.e., there have been no amendments to the state or local fair housing law, adoption of rules or procedures concerning the fair housing law, or judicial or other authoritative interpretations of the fair housing law that limit the effectiveness of the agency's fair housing law).

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§115.206   Performance assessments; Performance standards.

(a) Frequency of on-site performance assessment during interim certification. The Assistant Secretary, through the appropriate FHEO regional office, may conduct an on-site performance assessment not later than six months after the execution of the interim agreement. An on-site performance assessment may also be conducted during the six months immediately prior to the expiration of the interim agreement. HUD has the discretion to conduct additional performance assessments during the period of interim certification, as it deems necessary.

(b) Frequency of on-site performance assessment during certification. During certification, the Assistant Secretary through the FHEO regional office, may conduct on-site performance assessments every 24 months. HUD has the discretion to conduct additional performance assessments during the period of certification, as it deems necessary.

(c) In conducting the performance assessment, the FHEO regional office shall determine whether the agency engages in timely, comprehensive, and thorough fair housing complaint investigation, conciliation, and enforcement activities. In the performance assessment report, the FHEO regional office may recommend to the Assistant Secretary whether the agency should continue to be interim certified or certified. In conducting the performance assessment, the FHEO regional office shall also determine whether the agency is in compliance with the requirements for participation in the FHAP enumerated in §§115.307, 115.308, 115.309, 115.310, and 115.311 of this part. In the performance assessment report, the FHEO regional office shall identify whether the agency meets the requirements of §§115.307, 115.308, 115.309, 115.310, and 115.311 of this part, and, therefore, should continue receiving funding under the FHAP.

(d) At a minimum, the performance assessment will consider the following to determine the effectiveness of an agency's fair housing complaint processing, consistent with such guidance as may be issued by HUD:

(1) The agency's case processing procedures;

(2) The thoroughness of the agency's case processing;

(3) A review of cause and no cause determinations for quality of investigations and consistency with appropriate standards;

(4) A review of conciliation agreements and other settlements;

(5) A review of the agency's administrative closures; and

(6) A review of the agency's enforcement procedures, including administrative hearings and judicial proceedings.

(e) Performance standards. HUD shall utilize the following performance standards while conducting performance assessments. If an agency does not meet one or more performance standard(s), HUD shall utilize the performance deficiency procedures enumerated in §115.210.

(1) Performance Standard 1. Commence complaint proceedings, carry forward such proceedings, complete investigations, issue determinations, and make final administrative dispositions in a timely manner. To meet this standard, the performance assessment will consider the timeliness of the agency's actions with respect to its complaint processing, including, but not limited to:

(i) Whether the agency began its processing of fair housing complaints within 30 days of receipt;

(ii) Whether the agency completes the investigative activities with respect to a complaint within 100 days from the date of receipt or, if it is impracticable to do so, notifies the parties in writing of the reason(s) for the delay;

(iii) Whether the agency makes a determination of reasonable cause or no reasonable cause with respect to a complaint within 100 days from the date of receipt or, if it is impracticable to do so, notifies the parties in writing of the reason(s) for the delay;

(iv) Whether the agency makes a final administrative disposition of a complaint within one year from the date of receipt or, if it is impracticable to do so, notifies the parties in writing of the reason(s) for the delay; and

(v) Whether the agency completed the investigation of the complaint and prepared a complete, final investigative report.

(vi) When an agency is unable to complete investigative activities with respect to a complaint within 100 days, the agency must send written notification to the parties, indicating the reason(s) for the delay, within 110 days of the filing of the complaint.

(2) Performance Standard 2. Administrative closures are utilized only in limited and appropriate circumstances. Administrative closures should be distinguished from a closure on the merits and may not be used instead of making a recommendation or determination of reasonable or no reasonable cause. HUD will provide further guidance to interim and certified agencies on the appropriate circumstances for administrative closures.

(3) Performance Standard 3. During the period beginning with the filing of a complaint and ending with filing of a charge or dismissal, the agency will, to the extent feasible, attempt to conciliate the complaint. After a charge has been issued, the agency will, to the extent feasible, continue to attempt settlement until a hearing or a judicial proceeding has begun.

(4) Performance Standard 4. The agency conducts compliance reviews of settlements, conciliation agreements, and orders resolving discriminatory housing practices. The performance assessment shall include, but not be limited to:

(i) An assessment of the agency's procedures for conducting compliance reviews; and

(ii) Terms and conditions of agreements and orders issued.

(5) Performance Standard 5. The agency must consistently and affirmatively seek and obtain the type of relief designed to prevent recurrences of discriminatory practices. The performance assessment shall include, but not be limited to:

(i) An assessment of the agency's use of its authority to seek actual damages, as appropriate;

(ii) An assessment of the agency's use of its authority to seek and assess civil penalties or punitive damages, as appropriate;

(iii) An assessment of the types of relief sought by the agency with consideration for the inclusion of affirmative provisions designed to protect the public interest;

(iv) A review of all types of relief obtained;

(v) A review of the adequacy of the relief sought and obtained in light of the issues raised by the complaint;

(vi) The number of complaints closed with relief and the number closed without relief;

(vii) The number of complaints that proceed to administrative hearing and the result; and

(viii) The number of complaints that proceed to judicial proceedings and the result.

(6) Performance Standard 6. The agency must consistently and affirmatively seek to eliminate all prohibited practices under its fair housing law. An assessment under this standard will include, but not be limited to, an identification of the education and outreach efforts of the agency.

(7) Performance Standard 7. The agency must demonstrate that it receives and processes a reasonable number of complaints cognizable under both the federal Fair Housing Act and the agency's fair housing statute or ordinance. The reasonable number will be determined by HUD and based on all relevant circumstances including, but not limited to, the population of the jurisdiction that the agency serves, the length of time that the agency has participated in the FHAP, and the number of complaints that the agency has received and processed in the past. If an agency fails to receive and process a reasonable number of complaints during a year of FHAP participation, given education and outreach efforts conducted and receipts of complaints, then the FHEO regional director may offer the agency a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), as described in §115.210(a)(2). The PIP will set forth the number of complaints the agency must process during subsequent years of FHAP participation. After issuing the PIP, the FHEO regional office will provide the agency with technical assistance on ways to increase awareness of fair housing rights and responsibilities in the jurisdiction.

(8) Performance Standard 8. The agency must report to HUD on the final status of all dual-filed complaints where a determination of reasonable cause was made. The report must identify, at a minimum, how complaints were resolved (e.g., settlement, judicial proceedings, or administrative hearing), when they were resolved, the forum in which they were resolved, and types and amounts of relief obtained.

(9) Performance Standard 9. The agency must conform its performance to the provisions of any written agreements executed by the agency and the Department related to substantial equivalency certification, including, but not limited to, the interim agreement or MOU.

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§115.207   Consequences of interim certification and certification.

(a) Whenever a complaint received by the Assistant Secretary alleges violations of a fair housing law administered by an agency that has been interim certified or certified as substantially equivalent, the complaint will be referred to the agency, and no further action shall be taken by the Assistant Secretary with respect to such complaint except as provided for by the Act, this part, 24 CFR part 103, subpart C, and any written agreements executed by the Agency and the Assistant Secretary. HUD shall make referrals to interim certified and certified local agencies in accordance with this section even when the local agency is located in a state with an interim certified or certified state agency.

(b) If HUD determines that a complaint has not been processed in a timely manner in accordance with the performance standards set forth in §115.206, HUD may reactivate the complaint, conduct its own investigation and conciliation efforts, and make a determination consistent with 24 CFR part 103.

(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of this section, whenever the Assistant Secretary has reason to believe that a complaint demonstrates a basis for the commencement of proceedings against any respondent under section 814(a) of the Act or for proceedings by any governmental licensing or supervisory authorities, the Assistant Secretary shall transmit the information upon which such belief is based to the Attorney General, federal financial regulatory agencies, other federal agencies, or other appropriate governmental licensing or supervisory authorities.

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§115.208   Procedures for renewal of certification.

(a) If the Assistant Secretary affirmatively concludes that the agency's law and performance have complied with the requirements of this part in each of the five years of certification, the Assistant Secretary may renew the certification of the agency.

(b) In determining whether to renew the certification of an agency, the Assistant Secretary's review may include, but is not limited to:

(1) Performance assessments of the agency conducted by the Department during the five years of certification;

(2) The agency's own certification that the state or local fair housing law continues to be substantially equivalent both “on its face” and “in operation;” (i.e., there have been no amendments to the state or local fair housing law, adoption of rules or procedures concerning the fair housing law, or judicial or other authoritative interpretations of the fair housing law that limit the effectiveness of the agency's fair housing law); and

(3) Any and all public comments regarding the relevant state and local laws and the performance of the agency in enforcing the law.

(c) If the Assistant Secretary decides to renew an agency's certification, the Assistant Secretary will offer the agency either a new MOU or an Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding (addendum). The new MOU or addendum will extend and update the MOU between HUD and the agency.

(d) The new MOU or addendum, when signed by all appropriate signatories, will result in the agency's certification being renewed for five years from the date on which the previous MOU was to expire. Appropriate signatories include the Assistant Secretary, the FHEO regional director, and the authorized employee(s) of the agency.

(e) The provisions of this section may be applied to an agency that has an expired MOU or an expired addendum.

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§115.209   Technical assistance.

(a) The Assistant Secretary, through the FHEO regional office, may provide technical assistance to the interim and certified agencies at any time. The agency may request such technical assistance or the FHEO regional office may determine the necessity for technical assistance and require the agency's cooperation and participation.

(b) The Assistant Secretary, through FHEO headquarters or regional staff, will require that the agency participate in training conferences and seminars that will enhance the agency's ability to process complaints alleging discriminatory housing practices.

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§115.210   Performance deficiency procedures; Suspension; Withdrawal.

(a) HUD may utilize the following performance deficiency procedures if it determines at any time that the agency does not meet one or more of the performance standards enumerated in §115.206. The performance deficiency procedures may be applied to agencies with either interim certification or certification. If an agency fails to meet performance standard 7, HUD may bypass the technical assistance performance deficiency procedure and proceed to the PIP.

(1) Technical assistance. After discovering the deficiency, the FHEO regional office should immediately inform the agency and provide the agency with technical assistance.

(2) Performance improvement plan. If, following technical assistance, the agency does not bring its performance into compliance with §115.206 within a time period identified by the FHEO regional director, the FHEO regional director may offer the agency a PIP.

(i) The PIP will outline the agency's performance deficiencies, identify the necessary corrective actions, and include a timetable for completion.

(ii) If the agency receives a PIP, funding under the FHAP may be suspended for the duration of the PIP.

(iii) Once the agency has implemented the corrective actions to eliminate the deficiencies, and such corrective actions are accepted by the FHEO regional director, funding may be restored.

(iv) The FHEO regional office may provide the agency with technical assistance during the period of the PIP, if appropriate.

(b) Suspension. If the agency does not agree to implement the PIP or does not implement the corrective actions identified in the PIP within the time allotted, then the FHEO regional director may suspend the agency's interim certification or certification.

(1) The FHEO regional director shall notify the agency in writing of the specific reasons for the suspension and provide the agency with an opportunity to respond within 30 days.

(2) Suspension shall not exceed 180 days.

(3) During the period of suspension, HUD will not refer complaints to the agency.

(4) If an agency is suspended, the FHEO regional office may elect not to provide funding under the FHAP to the agency during the period of suspension, unless and until the Assistant Secretary determines that the agency is fully in compliance with §115.206.

(5) HUD may provide the agency with technical assistance during the period of suspension, if appropriate.

(6) No more than 60 days prior to the end of suspension, the FHEO regional office shall conduct a performance assessment of the agency.

(c) Withdrawal. If, following the performance assessment conducted at the end of suspension, the Assistant Secretary determines that the agency has not corrected the deficiencies, the Assistant Secretary may propose to withdraw the interim certification or certification of the agency.

(1) The Assistant Secretary shall proceed with withdrawal, unless the agency provides information or documentation that establishes that the agency's administration of its law meets all of the substantial equivalency certification criteria set forth in 24 CFR part 115.

(2) The Assistant Secretary shall inform the agency in writing of the reasons for the withdrawal.

(3) During any period after which the Assistant Secretary proposes withdrawal, until such time as the agency establishes that administration of its law meets all of the substantial equivalency certification criteria set forth in 24 CFR part 115, the agency shall be ineligible for funding under the FHAP.

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§115.211   Changes limiting effectiveness of agency's law; Corrective actions; Suspension; Withdrawal; Consequences of repeal; Changes not limiting effectiveness.

(a) Changes limiting effectiveness of agency's law. (1) If a state or local fair housing law that HUD has previously deemed substantially equivalent to the Act is amended; or rules or procedures concerning the fair housing law are adopted; or judicial or other authoritative interpretations of the fair housing law are issued, the interim-certified or certified agency must inform the Assistant Secretary of such amendment, adoption, or interpretation within 60 days of its discovery.

(2) The requirements of this section shall apply equally to the amendment, adoption, or interpretation of any related law that bears on any aspect of the effectiveness of the agency's fair housing law.

(3) The Assistant Secretary may conduct a review to determine if the amendment, adoption, or interpretation limits the effectiveness of the interim agency's fair housing law.

(b) Corrective actions. (1) If the review indicates that the agency's law no longer meets the criteria identified in §115.204, the Assistant Secretary will so notify the agency in writing. Following notification, HUD may take appropriate actions, including, but not limited to, any or all of the following:

(i) Declining to refer some or all complaints to the agency unless and until the fair housing law meets the criteria identified in §115.204;

(ii) Electing not to provide payment for complaints processed by the agency unless and until the fair housing law meets the criteria identified in §115.204;

(iii) Providing technical assistance and/or guidance to the agency to assist the agency in curing deficiencies in its fair housing law.

(2) Suspension based on changes in the law. If the corrective actions identified in paragraph (b)(1)(i) through (iii) of this section fail to bring the state or local fair housing law back into compliance with the criteria identified in §115.204 within the timeframe identified in HUD's notification to the agency, the Assistant Secretary may suspend the agency's interim certification or certification based on changes in the law or a related law.

(i) The Assistant Secretary will notify the agency in writing of the specific reasons for the suspension and provide the agency with an opportunity to respond within 30 days.

(ii) During the period of suspension, the Assistant Secretary has the discretion to not refer some or all complaints to the agency unless and until the agency's law meets the criteria identified in §115.204.

(iii) During suspension, HUD may elect not to provide payment for complaints processed unless and until the agency's law meets the criteria identified in §115.204.

(iv) During the period of suspension, if the fair housing law is brought back into compliance with the criteria identified in §115.204, and the Assistant Secretary determines that the fair housing law remains substantially equivalent to the Act, the Assistant Secretary will rescind the suspension and reinstate the agency's interim certification or certification.

(3) Withdrawal based on changes in the law. If the Assistant Secretary determines that the agency has not brought its law back into compliance with the criteria identified in §115.204 during the period of suspension, the Assistant Secretary may propose to withdraw the agency's interim certification or certification.

(i) The Assistant Secretary will proceed with withdrawal unless the agency provides information or documentation that establishes that the agency's current law meets the criteria of substantial equivalency certification identified in §115.204.

(ii) The Assistant Secretary will inform the agency in writing of the reasons for the withdrawal.

(c)(1) If, following notification from HUD that its fair housing law no longer meets the criteria identified in §115.204, an interim-certified or certified agency unequivocally expresses to HUD that its fair housing law will not be brought back into compliance, the Assistant Secretary may forgo suspension and proceed directly to withdrawal of the agency's interim certification or certification.

(2) During any period after which the Assistant Secretary proposes withdrawal, until such time as the agency establishes that administration of its law meets all of the substantial equivalency certification criteria set forth in 24 CFR part 115, the agency shall be ineligible for funding under the FHAP.

(d) Consequences of repeal. If a state or local fair housing law that HUD has previously deemed substantially equivalent to the Act is repealed, in whole or in part, or a related law that bears on any aspect of the effectiveness of the agency's fair housing law is repealed, in whole or in part, the Assistant Secretary may immediately withdraw the agency's interim certification or certification.

(e) Changes not limiting effectiveness. Nothing in this section is meant to limit the Assistant Secretary's authority to determine that a change to a fair housing law does not jeopardize the substantial equivalency interim certification or certification of an agency.

(1) Under such circumstances, the Assistant Secretary may proceed in maintaining the existing relationship with the agency, as set forth in the interim agreement or MOU.

(2) Alternatively, the Assistant Secretary may decide not to refer certain types of complaints to the agency. The Assistant Secretary may elect not to provide payment for these complaints and may require the agency to refer such complaints to the Department for investigation, conciliation, and enforcement activities.

(3) When the Assistant Secretary determines that a change to a fair housing law does not jeopardize an agency's substantial equivalency certification, the Assistant Secretary need not proceed to suspension or withdrawal if the change is not reversed.

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§115.212   Request after withdrawal.

(a) An agency that has had its interim certification or certification withdrawn, either voluntarily or by the Department, may request substantial equivalency interim certification or certification.

(b) The request shall be filed in accordance with §115.202.

(c) The Assistant Secretary shall determine whether the state or local law, on its face, provides substantive rights, procedures, remedies, and judicial review procedures for alleged discriminatory housing practices that are substantially equivalent to those provided in the federal Fair Housing Act. To meet this standard, the state or local law must meet the criteria enumerated in §115.204.

(d) Additionally, if the agency had documented performance deficiencies that contributed to the past withdrawal, then the Department shall consider the agency's performance and any steps the agency has taken to correct performance deficiencies and to prevent them from recurring in determining whether to grant interim certification or certification. The review of the agency's performance shall include HUD conducting a performance assessment in accordance with §115.206.

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