PIERRE, S.D.- April 2, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Renters and landlords across South Dakota now have an additional place to turn when disputes arise, especially those involving Fair Housing Act issues of discrimination.
Paul Flogstad of Sioux Falls has contracted with the South Dakota Housing Development Authority to act as a statewide Fair Housing ombudsman. His official start date is April 1, which coincides with the beginning of Fair Housing Month. He will work with landlords, tenants and agencies across South Dakota.
Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, it is illegal to discriminate in housing against anyone based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status or national origin. Flogstad has a similar role with the City of Sioux Falls. He said disputes often arise when landlords or tenants don’t understand their rights and responsibilities.
That’s why Fair Housing education is a big part of his ombudsman role, he said. Flogstad is available to informally answer questions from landlords, property managers and renters.
In addition, SDHDA is developing a website (fairhousingsd.com) that offers information about housing issues and will assist Flogstad in his work. “Fair Housing is a human right, and we want to be sure that all South Dakotans are protected,” said Mark Lauseng, SDHDA Executive Director.
When a dispute arises, Flogstad will act as a mediator to help find an answer that both parties can accept. If the dispute is unresolved, and it potentially involves housing discrimination, Flogstad forwards the case to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
He stressed that he is not an advocate for either landlord or tenant. “Even the thinnest pancake has two sides,” he said.
Before becoming the Sioux Falls Fair Housing ombudsman, Flogstad spent a number of years in property management for regional and national property management companies.
Through the years, Flogstad has dealt with a variety of issues such as assistive animals for people with disabilities, tenant harassment, sexual harassment and discriminatory practices in the way prospective renters are treated.
For questions about Fair Housing in South Dakota, contact Flogstad at 877-832-0161.
Paul Flogstad, Statewide Fair Housing Ombudsman, 877-832-0161
Mark Lauseng, South Dakota Housing Development Authority, 605-773-3181