Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
5/14/2021

Part III. Investigation and Conciliation of Complaints

Article 1
Complaints

18VAC135-50-300. Submission of information to file a complaint.

Article 1
Complaints

A. The administrator or his designee will receive complaint information concerning alleged discriminatory housing practices from any person. Where the information constitutes a complaint within the meaning of the fair housing law and these regulations and is furnished by an aggrieved person, a complaint will be considered filed in accordance with 18VAC135-50-350. Where additional information is required for the purpose of perfecting a complaint under the law, the administrator or his designee will advise what additional information is needed and will provide appropriate assistance in the filing of the complaint.

B. Complaint information may also be made available to any appropriate federal, state or local agency having an interest in the matter. In making available such information, steps will be taken to protect the confidentiality of any informant or complainant where desired by the informant or complainant.

C. The administrator or his designee may counsel with an aggrieved party about the facts and circumstances which constitute the alleged discriminatory housing practices. If the facts and circumstances do not constitute discriminatory housing practices, the administrator or his designee shall so advise the aggrieved party. If the facts and circumstances constitute alleged discriminatory housing practices, the administrator or his designee shall assist the aggrieved party in perfecting a complaint.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.20 C and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.1, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

18VAC135-50-310. Who may file a complaint.

Any aggrieved person or the administrator on behalf of the board may file a complaint no later than one year after an alleged discriminatory housing practice has occurred or terminated. The complaint may be filed with the assistance of an authorized representative of an aggrieved person, including any organization acting on behalf of an aggrieved person.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.2, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-320. Persons against whom complaints may be filed.

A. A complaint may be filed against any person alleged to be engaged, to have engaged, or to be about to engage, in a discriminatory housing practice.

B. A complaint may also be filed against any person who directs or controls, or has the right to direct or control, the conduct of another person with respect to any aspect of the sale, rental, advertising, or financing of dwellings, or the provision of brokerage services relating to the sale or rental of dwellings if that other person, acting within the scope of his authority as employee or agent of the directing or controlling person, is engaged, has engaged, or is about to engage, in a discriminatory housing practice.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.3, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-330. Filing a complaint.

Aggrieved persons may provide information to be contained in a complaint by telephone to fair housing office staff. Staff in the fair housing office will reduce information provided by telephone to writing on the prescribed complaint form and send the form to the aggrieved person to be signed and affirmed in accordance with 18VAC135-50-340 A.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.20 C and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.4, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

18VAC135-50-340. Form and content of a complaint.

A. Each complaint must be in writing and must be signed and affirmed by the aggrieved person filing the complaint or if the complaint is filed by the administrator on behalf of the board, it must be signed and affirmed by the administrator. The signature and affirmation may be made at any time during the investigation. The affirmation shall state "I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct."

B. The administrator may require complaints to be made on prescribed forms. The complaint forms will be available through the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. Notwithstanding any requirement for use of a prescribed form, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation will accept any written statement which substantially sets forth the allegations of a discriminatory housing practice under the fair housing law (including any such statement filed with a substantially equivalent local agency) as a fair housing law complaint. Personnel in the fair housing office will provide appropriate assistance in filling out forms and filing a complaint.

C. Each complaint must contain substantially the following information:

1. The name and address of the aggrieved person.

2. The name and address of the respondent.

3. A description and address of the dwelling which is involved, if appropriate.

4. A concise statement of the facts, including pertinent dates, constituting the alleged discriminatory housing practice.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.5, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-350. Date of filing of a complaint.

A. Except as provided in subsection B of this section, a complaint is filed when it is received by the board or dual filed with the federal government in a form that reasonably meets the standards of 18VAC135-50-340.

B. The administrator may determine that a complaint is filed for the purposes of the one-year period for filing of complaints upon submission of written information identifying the parties and describing generally the alleged discriminatory housing practice. Written information includes information provided by telephone and reduced to writing by Fair Housing Office staff. A filed complaint can be signed at any time during the investigation.

C. Where a complaint alleges a discriminatory housing practice that is continuing, as manifested in a number of incidents of such conduct, the complaint will be timely if filed within one year of the last alleged occurrence of that practice.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.8 and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia; 42 USC § 3613.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.6, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003; Volume 30, Issue 11, eff. March 1, 2014.

18VAC135-50-360. Amendment of complaint.

Complaints may be reasonably and fairly amended at any time. Such amendments may include, but are not limited to: (i) amendments to cure technical defects or omissions, including failure to sign or affirm a complaint, (ii) to clarify or amplify the allegations in a complaint, or (iii) to join additional or substitute respondents. Except for the purposes of notifying respondents, under 18VAC135-50-380, amended complaints will be considered as having been made as of the original filing date.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.7, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-370. Service of notice on aggrieved person.

Upon the filing of a complaint, the administrator or his designee will notify, by certified mail or personal service, each aggrieved person on whose behalf the complaint was filed. The notice will:

1. Acknowledge the filing of the complaint and state the date that the complaint was accepted for filing.

2. Include a copy of the complaint.

3. Advise the aggrieved person of the time limits applicable to complaint processing and of the procedural rights and obligations of the aggrieved person under the Virginia Fair Housing Law and these regulations.

4. Advise the aggrieved person of his right to commence a civil action under the fair housing law, in state circuit court, not later than two years after the occurrence or termination of the alleged discriminatory housing practice. The notice will state that the computation of this two-year period excludes any time during which an action arising from a breach of a conciliation agreement under the law is pending.

5. Advise the aggrieved person that retaliation against any person because he made a complaint or testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation or conciliation under these regulations is a discriminatory housing practice that is prohibited under the law and these regulations.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.8, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-380. Respondent to be notified of complaint.

A. Within 10 days of the filing of a complaint under 18VAC135-50-350 or the filing of an amended complaint under 18VAC135-50-360, the administrator or his designee will serve a notice on each respondent by certified mail or by personal service. A person who is not named as a respondent in a complaint, but who is identified in the course of the investigation under Part V of these regulations as a person who is alleged to be engaged, to have engaged, or to be about to engage in the discriminatory housing practice upon which the complaint is based may be joined as an additional or substitute respondent by service of a notice on the person under this section within 10 days of the identification.

B. 1. The notice will identify the alleged discriminatory housing practice upon which the complaint is based, and include a copy of the complaint and copies of any supporting documentation referenced in the complaint which are received with the complaint.

2. The notice will state the date that the complaint was accepted for filing.

3. The notice will advise the respondent of the time limits applicable to complaint processing under these regulations and of the procedural rights and obligations of the respondent under the law and these regulations, including the opportunity to submit an answer to the complaint within 10 days of the receipt of the notice. The administrator, upon request, has the discretion to extend this time period for a reasonable time.

4. The notice will advise the respondent of the aggrieved person's right to commence a civil action under the law, in a state circuit court, no later than 180 days after the conclusion of the administrative process with respect to a complaint or charge, or, not later than two years after the occurrence or termination of the alleged discriminatory housing practice, whichever is longer.

5. If the person is not named in the complaint, but is being joined as an additional or substitute respondent, the notice will explain the basis for the administrator's belief that the joined person is properly joined as a respondent.

6. The notice will advise the respondent that retaliation against any person because he made a complaint or testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation or conciliation under this part is a discriminatory housing practice that is prohibited under the law and these regulations.

7. The notice may invite the respondent to enter into a conciliation agreement for the purpose of resolving the complaint.

8. The notice may include an initial request for information and documentation concerning the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged discriminatory housing practice set forth in the complaint.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.9, eff. December 1, 1991.

Article 2
Responses

18VAC135-50-390. Respondent may file response.

Article 2
Responses

The respondent may file an answer after receipt of the notice described in 18VAC135-50-380. The respondent may assert any defense that might be available to a defendant in a court of law. The answer must be in writing under oath or affirmation by the respondent. The affirmation must state: "I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct."

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.20 C and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.10, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

Article 3
Investigations

18VAC135-50-400. Investigations.

Article 3
Investigations

A. Upon the filing of a complaint, the administrator shall investigate the allegations. The purposes of an investigation are:

1. To obtain information concerning the events or transactions that relate to the alleged discriminatory housing practice identified in the complaint.

2. To document policies or practices of the respondent involved in the alleged discriminatory housing practice raised in the complaint.

3. To develop factual data necessary for the administrator on behalf of the board to make a recommendation whether reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice has occurred or is about to occur, and to take other actions provided under this part.

B. Based on the authority delegated to the fair housing administrator by the board, the administrator may investigate housing practices to determine whether a complaint should be filed. Such an initiation may include using testers and other established practices or procedures.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.8 and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia; 42 USC § 3613.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.11, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003; Volume 23, Issue 22, eff. September 22, 2007; Volume 30, Issue 11, eff. March 1, 2014.

18VAC135-50-410. Systemic processing.

Where the administrator determines that the alleged discriminatory practices contained in a complaint are pervasive or institutional in nature, or that the processing of the complaint will involve complex issues, novel questions of fact or law, or will affect a large number of persons, the administrator may identify the complaint for systemic processing. This determination can be based on the face of the complaint or on information gathered in connection with an investigation. Systemic investigations may focus not only on documenting facts involved in the alleged discriminatory housing practice that is the subject of the complaint but also on review of other policies and procedures related to matters under investigation, to make sure that they also comply with the nondiscrimination requirements of the law.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.12, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-420. Conduct of investigation.

A. In conducting investigations under these regulations, the voluntary cooperation of all persons will be sought to obtain access to premises, records, documents, individuals, and other possible sources of information; to examine, record, and copy necessary materials; and to take and record testimony or statements of persons reasonably necessary for the furtherance of the investigation.

B. The administrator and the respondent may conduct discovery in aid of the investigation by the same methods and to the same extent that parties may conduct discovery in a court of law. The administrator or his designee, on behalf of the board, shall also have the power to issue subpoenas described under the law, in support of the investigation.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.20 C and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.13, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

18VAC135-50-430. Cooperation with federal agencies.

The administrator, in processing complaints under the Virginia Fair Housing Law, may seek the cooperation and utilize the services of federal, state and local agencies, including any agency having regulatory or supervisory authority over financial institutions.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.14, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-440. Completion of investigation.

The investigation will remain open until a determination regarding reasonable cause is made, the board determines that the matter involves the legality of local zoning or land use laws or ordinances, or a conciliation agreement is executed and approved.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.8 and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia; 42 USC § 3613.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.15, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003; Volume 30, Issue 11, eff. March 1, 2014.

18VAC135-50-450. Final investigative report.

At the end of each investigation under this article, the administrator or his designee will prepare a final investigative report. The investigative report will contain the names and dates of contacts with witnesses, except that the report will not disclose the names of witnesses who request anonymity. The board, however, may be required to disclose the names of such witnesses in the course of a civil action under the fair housing law.

Notwithstanding the prohibitions and requirements with respect to disclosure of information contained in 18VAC135-50-510, the administrator will make information derived from an investigation, including the final investigative report, available to the aggrieved person and the respondent. Following the completion of an investigation, the administrator shall notify the aggrieved person and the respondent that the final investigative report is complete and will be provided upon request.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.20 C and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.16, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

Article 4
Conciliation

18VAC135-50-460. Conciliation process.

Article 4
Conciliation

In conciliating a complaint, the administrator will attempt to achieve a just resolution of the complaint and to obtain assurances that the respondent will satisfactorily remedy any violations of the rights of the aggrieved person, and take such action as will assure the elimination of discriminatory housing practices, or the prevention of their occurrence, in the future.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.20 C and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.17, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

18VAC135-50-470. Conciliation agreement.

A. The terms of a settlement of a complaint will be reduced to a written conciliation agreement. The conciliation agreement shall seek to protect the interests of the aggrieved person, other persons similarly situated, and the public interest. The types of relief that may be sought for the aggrieved person are described in 18VAC135-50-480 and the Virginia Fair Housing Law. The provisions that may be sought for the vindication of the public interest are described in 18VAC135-50-490.

B. The agreement must be executed by the respondent and the complainant. The agreement is subject to the approval of the board.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.20 C and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.18, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

18VAC135-50-480. Relief sought for aggrieved persons during conciliation.

A. The following types of relief may be sought for aggrieved persons in conciliation:

1. Monetary relief in the form of compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees;

2. Other equitable relief including, but not limited to, access to the dwelling at issue, or to a comparable dwelling, the provision of services or facilities in connection with a dwelling, or other specific relief; or

3. Injunctive relief appropriate to the elimination of discriminatory housing practices affecting the aggrieved person or other persons.

B. The conciliation agreement may provide for binding arbitration or other methods of resolving a dispute arising from the complaint. Arbitration may award appropriate relief as described in subsection A of this section. The aggrieved person and the respondent may, in the conciliation agreement, limit the types of relief that may be awarded under binding arbitration or other methods of dispute resolution.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.19, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-490. Conciliation provisions relating to public interest.

The following are types of provisions that may be sought for the vindication of the public interest:

1. Elimination of discriminatory housing practices.

2. Prevention of future discriminatory housing practices.

3. Remedial affirmative activities to overcome discriminatory housing practices.

4. Reporting requirements.

5. Monitoring and enforcement activities.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.20, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-500. Termination of conciliation process.

A. The administrator may terminate his efforts to conciliate the complaint if the respondent fails or refuses to confer with the administrator or his designee; the aggrieved person or the respondent fails to make a good faith effort to resolve any dispute; or the administrator finds, for any reason, that voluntary agreement is not likely to result.

B. Where the aggrieved person has commenced a civil action under federal law or a state law seeking relief with respect to the alleged discriminatory housing practice, and the trial in the action has commenced, the administrator will terminate conciliation unless the court specifically requests assistance from the board.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.21, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-510. Disclosure of information obtained during conciliation.

A. Except as provided in subsection B of this section and 18VAC135-50-450 C, nothing that is said or done in the course of conciliation under this article may be made public or used as evidence in subsequent civil actions under the Virginia Fair Housing Law or this chapter without the written consent of the persons concerned.

B. Conciliation agreements shall be made public, unless the aggrieved person and respondent request nondisclosure and the board determines that disclosure is not required to further the purposes of the fair housing law. Notwithstanding a determination that disclosure of a conciliation agreement is not required, the board may publish tabulated descriptions of the results of all conciliation efforts.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.20 C and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.22, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

18VAC135-50-520. Review of compliance with conciliation agreement.

The administrator may, from time to time, review compliance with the terms of any conciliation agreement. Whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that a respondent has breached a conciliation agreement, the board shall refer the matter to the Attorney General with a recommendation for the filing of a civil action under the Virginia Fair Housing Law for the enforcement of the terms of the conciliation agreement.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.23, eff. December 1, 1991.

Article 5
Issuance of a Charge

18VAC135-50-530. Reasonable cause determination.

Article 5
Issuance of a Charge

A. The reasonable cause determination will be based solely on the facts concerning the alleged discriminatory housing practice, provided by complainant and respondent and otherwise disclosed during the investigation. In making the reasonable cause determination, the board shall consider whether the facts concerning the alleged discriminatory housing practice are sufficient to warrant the initiation of a civil action in the appropriate state court.

B. In all cases not involving the legality of local zoning or land use laws or ordinances:

1. If the board determines that reasonable cause exists, the board will issue a charge under § 36-96.14 of the fair housing law and these regulations on behalf of the aggrieved person, and shall notify the aggrieved person and the respondent of this determination by certified mail or personal service.

2. If a no reasonable cause determination is made, the board shall: Issue a short and plain written statement of the facts upon which the no reasonable cause determination was based; dismiss the complaint; notify the aggrieved person and the respondent of the dismissal (including the written statement of facts) in writing within 30 days of such determination by certified mail or personal service; and make public disclosure of the dismissal.

Statutory Authority

§§ 36-96.20 C and 54.1-2105 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.24, eff. December 1, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

18VAC135-50-540. Local zoning and land use.

If the board determines that the matter involves the legality of local zoning or land use laws or ordinances, in lieu of making a determination regarding reasonable cause, the investigative materials shall be referred to the Attorney General for appropriate action under the fair housing law, and shall notify the aggrieved person and the respondent of this action by certified mail or personal service.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.25, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-550. Pending private civil action.

The board may not issue a charge regarding an alleged discriminatory housing practice if an aggrieved person has commenced a civil action under federal law or a state law seeking relief with respect to the alleged discriminatory housing practice, and the trial in the action has commenced. If a charge may not be issued because of the commencement of such a trial, the board will so notify the aggrieved person and the respondent by certified mail or personal service.

Statutory Authority

§ 36-96.8 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.26, eff. December 1, 1991.

18VAC135-50-560. (Repealed.)

Historical Notes

Derived from VR585-01-05 § 3.27 to 3.30, eff. December 1, 1991; repealed, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 24, eff. September 10, 2003.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

As a service to the public, the Virginia Administrative Code is provided online by the Virginia General Assembly. We are unable to answer legal questions or respond to requests for legal advice, including application of law to specific fact. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.