During the period commencing with the filing of a housing discrimination complaint, until a determination of "reasonable cause or "no reasonable cause" is reached, the parties will be offered every reasonable opportunity to settle the issues raised by the complaint through conciliation.  As used in the Fair Housing Act, the term "Conciliation" means the attempt to resolve issues raised in a complaint, or arising during the investigation of a complaint, through informal negotiations involving the aggrieved person(s) and the respondents. Before a Conciliation Agreement will be approved by the Agency and HUD, it must be signed by the complainant and respondent and address the public interest.

The Parties' Rights

Confidentiality. Nothing said or done during the course of conciliation negotiations can be used against a party in a subsequent administrative hearing or civil trial arising from the complaint.

Right to Representation. All parties have the right to be represented by the legal counsel, advocate or organization of their choice during conciliation negotiations.

Voluntary Nature of Conciliation. Participation in conciliation is entirely voluntary. No person may be coerced into conciliating a complaint. There is no penalty for declining to settle a complaint through conciliation. Investigators and conciliators may not bully, threaten or intimidate any party in an effort to reach settlement.

Role of the Conciliator

The Conciliator:

  • Is a neutral participant seeking to facilitate a mutually agreeable settlement;
  • Will inform the parties of their rights during conciliation;
  • Will inform the parties of their rights during conciliation;
  • Will inform the parties about the conciliation process, and help formulate negotiation procedures that will further dialogue;
  • Will, if necessary, provide interpretations of the Fair Housing Act in order to enable the parties to negotiate from informed positions;
  • May describe the evidence gathered during the investigation in order to enable the parties to negotiate from informed positions;
  • Must convey offers and counter-offers between the parties;
  • Is responsible for drafting a Conciliation Agreement incorporating both individual relief for the aggrieved person and relief intended to further the public interest in preventing further discrimination;
  • May describe the potential relief which could be sought or awarded for violating the Fair Housing Act, but will not comment on the likelihood that those penalties would be imposed upon a particular respondent.

Effect of Conciliation Agreement on the Complaint Investigation

An approved and fully-executed (signed by all Parties) Conciliation Agreement terminates the investigation of the complaint. By entering into a Conciliation Agreement, the respondent avoids liability on the facts of the complaint by agreeing to provide individual relief for the aggrieved person, and appropriate public interest relief as imposed by the Agency and/or HUD. The complainant agrees to accept the relief provided by the terms of the Conciliation Agreement, in exchange for giving up his or her potential right to pursue relief granted through an administrative hearing or a civil trial.

Nature of the Conciliation Agreement

The essential terms of the Agreement will be those negotiated and mutually agreed to by the complainant and respondent, and approved by the Agency and HUD. The Agreement must also include provisions for relief to protect the public interest.

The Agency or HUD may develop appropriate public relief provisions based upon an assessment of the total factual record then available in each individual case.

Role of the US Justice Department

Upon receipt and verification of information that a respondent has breached a HUD-approved Conciliation Agreement, the Agency or HUD will refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney General for enforcement proceedings.

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