Louisiana Acorn Fair Housing v. Quarter House: Federal District Court in Louisiana Holds Timeshares are Dwellings Under FHA

In Louisiana Acorn Fair Housing v. Quarter House, a U.S. District Court held that timeshare units constitute dwellings under the Fair Housing Act (the "FHA").

The Quarter House, a timeshare resort, is located near New Orleans’ French Quarter. In accordance with the resort’s qualification list, the agents refused to show the property to people belonging to any of the following groups: African-Americans,aliens, of Middle Eastern or Indian cultures or religions, physically unable to climb stairs, pregnant women, and families with more than two children under the age of 10."

The FHA "prohibits discrimination in the rental or sale of a ‘dwelling’ on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, handicap and familial status." To state a valid claim under the FHA, the discrimination must have occurred in connection with property that constitutes a "dwelling" under the FHA. The court relied on the preamble to regulations issued by HUD in 1988, which states that the relevant section of the FHA was "broad enough to cover each of the types of dwellings enumerated in the proposed rule: mobile home parks, trailer courts, condominiums, cooperatives and timesharing properties." Based on this explanation, the court found that HUD clearly intended the term "dwelling" to include timeshare properties.

In addition, the court looked to case law addressing whether certain types of properties constitute "dwellings" under the FHA. In these cases, the courts have used the ordinary meaning of the term "residence," and also have considered the length of time a person stayed at the property and whether they intended to return. Applying this to the Quarter House
situation, the court stated that the most important aspect of the analysis is that the timeshare owners possess the right to return to their units, and found that the timeshare units are dwellings under the FHA.

Louisiana Acorn Fair Housing v. Quarter House, 952 F. Supp 352, (E.D. La. 1997).