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NAR Sends 2nd Letter to Law Firm that Issues FHA Demand Letters

It asked the firm to stop “attempts to intimidate our members” after the firm responded to a first letter by saying NAR denigrates efforts to help the disabled.

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) sent a second letter to the Portell Law Group protesting demand letters sent by the firm to Realtor members “threatening frivolous claims under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Florida Fair Housing Act (FFHA) in an effort to extract monetary payments from our members.”

NAR sent the first letter on Aug. 19, 2020. In the latest letter from NAR, it’s responding to a reply sent by the Portell Law Group that it received on Oct. 8, 2020.

NAR says that Portell’s response “confirms that (1) the demands your firm has made are baseless.”

While issues regarding the federal Fair Housing Act are still being alleged, Portell agreed not to file charges under the Florida Fair Housing Act, saying NAR’s “statements in that regard are correct. We acknowledge that a cause of action under the Florida FHA was ill founded; we no longer do so.”

However, Portell did not suggest in its Oct. 8 letter that it would stop pursuing the issue or sending demand letters to Realtor members.

NAR makes a few broad points in its latest letter, including:

  1. There’s no basis for federal Fair Housing Act claims. NAR tells Portell that it was “unable to cite to a single case, regulation, or guidance” in the Act that “requires real estate brokerage websites to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.”
  2. Portell failed to explain how issues alleged in demand letters “concerning our members’ websites impeded your client’s ability to use the websites.”

In its conclusion, NAR asked the law firm and Access4All to “cease your attempts to intimidate our members into making monetary payments by threatening baseless claims,” and it asked Portell to confirm that it will do so “within ten (10) days of the date of this letter.”

© 2020 Florida Realtors®