Housing Discrimination? What You Need to Know about the Fair Housing Act

(DailyVibe.com) – Have you experienced housing discrimination? If you believe this may be the case, read on. The Fair Housing Act makes housing discrimination illegal but, unfortunately, discrimination still occurs. Let’s take a look at the rights you have due to the Fair Housing Act, and what process you can undergo to file a complaint if your fair housing rights have been violated.

What Is Discrimination?

Discrimination is the treatment of a person or group based on their characteristics. These attributes can include race, age, gender, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, familial status, or country of origin. There are many federal laws in place to prevent discrimination and to protect individuals who experience it, and they apply to work, housing, and public assistance and benefits situations.

How the Fair Housing Act Protects You Against Discrimination

Unfortunately, laws can’t prevent discrimination, but they can protect you in the event that you are a victim of discrimination. The Fair Housing Act does this when it comes to buying or renting a place to live, or in case you need to find housing assistance, apply for a mortgage, or engage in any other activities related to finding housing. The law states that it is illegal for someone to discriminate against you based upon your disability, familial status, national origin, race, color, religion, or sex. Examples of the types of discrimination illegal in housing include:

  • Refusal to rent or sell a home to you
  • Refusal to negotiate housing agreements that would otherwise be available or to suddenly make available housing unavailable for no other reason
  • Imposing different terms and conditions on you for a sale or rental of housing, or placing different prices on different people based on their defining characteristics
  • Offering different facilities or housing
  • Denial of a home that’s available for sale, rental, or inspection
  • Publishing any sort of notice that indicates a specific type of dweller is preferred
  • Ensuring different qualifications for different applicants
  • Evicting a tenant or the tenant’s guest based on a defining characteristic
  • Not providing property maintenance and repairs per the contract
  • Discouraging a person from renting or purchasing a specific dwelling
  • Refusing a mortgage, loan, or other type of financial assistance
  • Making any housing-related determinations based upon the applicant’s response to harassment or harassing behaviors
  • Intimidating anyone who is exercising their right to fair housing, or anyone who is helping someone exercise that right
  • Refusal to provide reasonable accommodations so a person with disabilities can live in the dwelling

What types of housing does the Fair Housing Act cover? Most — but dwellings also occupied by the owner with less than four units, single family homes sold FSBO (For Sale By Owner) with no agent’s help, and religious organizations’ housing may be exempt.

Are You Covered by the Fair Housing Act?

Yes. Everyone seeking a home in the United States is covered by the Fair Housing Act. If you are the recipient of discrimination, you can complain. You can complain about managers, property owners, lenders, agents, developers, homeowners’ associations, insurance providers and anyone else who can affect your ability to rent or own.

Report a Fair Housing Act Violation

If you’ve experienced discrimination that violates your right to housing, file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Equal Opportunity (FHEO) Division. You can file complaints by phone, snail mail, email, and online. Make sure you include your name and address, the same information about the person who violated your rights, and a full description of the event. Expect the FHEO to investigate immediately, and don’t hesitate to file a report if you have experienced discrimination.

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