Just as the name implies, the Fair Housing Act was developed as a way of protecting people from being discriminated when renting, buying, and even securing a loan for any housing, whether an apartment, duplex, townhome, or single-family dwelling.
For existing and potential tenants and homeowners, the Fair Housing Act is of extreme importance. Established in 1968 as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, this offers meaningful reinforcement mechanisms under the Federal Government.
Key Pieces of Information to Know
As part of the Fair Housing Act are multiple items of protection to include the examples provided below.
- Coverage – Most housing is covered under the Fair Housing Act. However, there are a few exemptions to include owner-occupied buildings that do not have more than four units, housing that is operated by private clubs and organizations whereby occupancy is limited to members, and single family homes that have been rented or sold without the services of a real estate broker.
- Prohibitions – For the rental and sale of housing, very specific actions cannot be taken against someone based on color, race, age, sex, national origin, religion, disability, and the presence of children. Examples include the refusal to rent or sell a home, the refusal of negotiations, making housing unavailable, falsely denying that housing is unavailable to be rented, sold, or inspected, establishing and enforcing different conditions, terms, and privileges for rental or sale of a dwelling, and providing different housing facilities and services.
- Disability – No one legally living in the home who is disabled, whether physical or mental, which includes visual, hearing, and mobility impairments, AIDS and AIDS-related Complex, chronic alcoholism, and others, can be discriminated against.
- Landlord – For landlords, certain things are strictly prohibited. For instance, a landlord cannot refuse a person who wants to make reasonable modifications to a dwelling or common use area at their expense as needed for someone who is disabled. In addition, a landlord is not allowed to refuse any reasonable accommodations in policies, rules, services, or practices if required for someone living in the home who is disabled.
- New Buildings – Under the Fair Housing Act, any buildings ready for occupancy after March 13, 1991 that have an elevator and at least four units must offer accessible common and public areas for people with disabilities. In addition, doors and hallways have to be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and all units are mandated to have an accessible route into and throughout the unit, reinforced bathroom walls for grab bar installation, and accessible outlets, light switches, and thermostats.
- Advertising – Property owners are allowed to describe the characteristics, features, and amenities but not the type of people who would be fit to live on the premises
- Loans – Even loans for housing are protected under the Fair Housing Act. Some examples include the refusal to secure a mortgage loan, imposition of different loan terms and conditions, refusal to provide information pertaining to loans, and discrimination for appraising a property.
- Family Living – At no time can a person be discriminated against because of family status in which there is at least one child under the age of 18 still in the home
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