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(a) Any person subjected to an unlawful housing practice may file, with the Board, within 360 days of the alleged violation, a complaint in writing, sworn to or affirmed, which shall state:
(1) The name and address of the person aggrieved;
(2) The name and address of the person against whom the complaint is filed;
(3) A description and the address of the dwelling which involves the alleged discriminatory housing practice;
(4) A concise statement of the facts, including pertinent dates, constituting the alleged discriminatory housing practice, and such other information as may be required by the Board.
The complaint may be reasonably and fairly amended. The Board may also corroborate or initiate complaints on the basis of studies carried out by its staff or volunteers authorized by the Board.
(b) Upon the filing of a complaint, the Secretary of the Board shall make such investigations that he or she deems appropriate to ascertain facts and issues. Such investigations shall be conducted within fourteen business day after the filing of the complaint. The investigation may be extended when deemed necessary by the Chairperson of the Fair Housing Board. If the Secretary determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe a violation has occurred, he or she shall attempt to conciliate the matter by methods of initial conference and persuasion with all interested parties and such representatives as the parties may choose to assist them. Conciliation conferences shall be informal, and nothing said or done during such initial conferences shall be made public by any member of the Board or its staff, unless the parties agree thereto in writing.
(c) The terms of conciliation agreed to by the parties shall be reduced to writing and incorporated into a consent agreement to be signed by the parties, which agreement is for conciliation purposes only and does not constitute an admission by any party that the law has been violated. Consent agreements shall be signed on behalf of the Board by its Chairperson.
(d) The Board is hereby authorized to seek the cooperation and aid of the Ohio Real Estate Commission, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and any other person or group regarding any matter before the Board.
(e) If the Secretary determines that the complaint lacks reasonable grounds upon which to base a violation of this chapter, he or she shall so inform the Board, and the Board may, in its discretion, dismiss such complaint or order such further investigation as may be necessary. The Board shall not dismiss such complaint without first affording either party an opportunity to appear before the Board.
(f) If the Secretary, with respect to a matter which involves a violation of this chapter, fails to conciliate a complaint after the parties have in good faith attempted such conciliation, fails to effect an informal conciliation agreement or a formal consent agreement or determines that a complaint is not susceptible of conciliation, he or she shall so notify the Board, and the Board shall thereafter schedule a public hearing to determine whether a violation of this chapter has been committed. The Board shall serve upon the respondent a written statement of charges and a summons and shall serve upon all interested parties a notice of the time and place of the hearing. The respondent or his or her authorized counsel may file and amend such statements with the Board prior to the hearing date as he or she deems necessary in support of his or her position. The hearing shall be open to the public. The hearing shall be held not less than fifteen calendar days nor more than thirty calendar days after service of the statement of charges and summons. The summons so issued must be signed by three members of the Board, and the issuance of such summons shall require the attendance of named persons and the production of relevant documents and records. The failure to comply with a summons shall constitute a violation of this chapter. The interested parties may, at their option, appear before the Board in person or by a duly authorized representative and may have the assistance of an attorney. The parties may present testimony and evidence, and the right to cross-examine witnesses shall be preserved. All testimony and evidence shall be given under oath or by affirmation. The Secretary shall keep a full record of the hearing, which record shall be public and open to inspection by any person, and upon request by any principal party to the proceeding, the Board shall furnish such party a copy of the hearing record, at such cost as the Board deems appropriate.
(g) If, at the conclusion of the hearing, the Board determines upon the preponderance of the evidence that the person complained against has violated this chapter, the Board shall, after consultation with the Administrative Legal Counsel in executive session, state its findings and cause the Administrative Legal Counsel to prepare and issue an order under Board directive requiring the person complained against to cease and desist from such unlawful conduct and to take such affirmative action as will effectuate the purpose of this chapter, with notice that if the Board, upon investigation by the Secretary, determines that the person complained against has not, after fifteen calendar days following service of the Board's order, complied with the order, the Board will recertify the matter to the Administrative Legal Counsel for enforcement. The Administrative Legal Counsel shall seek compliance by appropriate civil action brought in the name of the Fair Housing Board of the City before a court of competent jurisdiction.
(h) If, at the conclusion of the hearing, the Board determines upon the preponderance of the evidence of the record that the person complained against has not violated this chapter, the Board shall so state and publish its findings and issue its orders dismissing the complaint.
(Ord. 96-98. Passed 5-6-96.)