By Catherine M. Corfee, Esq. Corfee Stone Law Corp.*

916-487-5441 corfee.catherine@gmail.com

Housing accommodations that receive federal funds and provide housing for Section 8 tenants must provide translation services and have a plan of such or you could be exposed to a HUD Complaint. HUD encourages a LEP plan, which stands for Limited English Plan. There are four factors to analyze, which is not discussed herein. However, you must always ask a Section 8 applicant if they need translation services. Having a relationship with official translators is a good idea, as with access to translation services. Vital documents must be translated for those who speak limited English, which would include, violations of the lease, notices to recertify for the section 8 HUD housing, evictions, and so forth. I have had some clients use Google Translator for some of their documents. Having bilingual staff also suffices. A disgruntled tenant can file a complaint with HUD for failure to follow this law.

It is a good idea to have in writing the fact that your housing entity asked the tenant if they need translation services and that their response be in writing. HUD does not suggest relying on family or friends of the tenant to translate.

The law technically provides that recipients of federal financial assistance are required to take reasonable steps to ensure meaningful access to their programs and activities by limited English proficient (LEP) persons. In accordance with Executive Order 13166, the meaningful access requirement of the Title VI regulations and the four-factor analysis set forth in the Department of Justice (DOJ) LEP Guidance apply to the programs and activities of federal agencies, including HUD.

You may provide a language inquiry card to a tenant. The federal government has a set of cards to give to a tenant to identify what language he or she speaks. The “I speak” cards are available on the internet. Download the I speak card here. The State of Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, and the American Translators Association have made language identification cards available. View the language identification card online.

For more information, you may review the following link, and/or review HUD on line:


The cited links can be found at:


You should review HUD’s LEP Guidance. Additional information may also be obtained through the federal-wide LEP website and HUD’s LEP website. This article is not expressly or impliedly providing legal advice of any kind whatsoever. A Fair Housing Attorney should be consulted.