Fair Housing Act

Even in today’s society, we live in a place where discrimination against one another still happens each
and every day. One of the most common places that discrimination takes place is within the Real Estate
realm. While certain ethical codes and morals may seem simple and easy enough to follow by anyone
with an unbiased/open state of mind, a simple slip even when unintentional can get property owners
and their agents into a heap of trouble as well as emotionally harming renters at the same time. The
following consist of the major laws that owners must adhere to in order to ensure people are treated
fairly, consistently, and most important of all, equally. These rules, which are passed down in the Civil
Rights Act of 1968 must be adhere to regardless whether you are selling your property, leasing your
property, or financing properties. The following are the major regulations that are within the umbrella
of the Fair Housing Act:

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in any type of Real Estate transaction (sales,
rentals, financing) based on:

o Color,
o Race, “a lot of chinese live in this building”
o National Origin, “we do not accept non-Americans” It would only be a violation if the tenant has a social security number.
o Religion “a lot of Jews live in this building”
o Sex, “we only accept females in this unit”
o Handicap Status, “we do not accept emotional/support pets/animals” deposit cannot be charged on support animals. a higher deposit for handicap access is also a violation
o Familial Status “we cannot accept children on the upper units”
In addition to the above protected classes, some states have the following groups to be under
the protection of Fair Housing Laws:

o Maritial Status,
o Sexual Orientation,
o Age, “seeking older, mature tenants”
o Source of Income,
o Military Status,
o Students. “we cannot accept college students”

While memorizing the above rules and the protected classes will help a landlord gain a better
knowledge in what they should not be conducting when it comes to discrimination, the easiest way to
adhere to all of these rules is to make sure every individual you deal with must be treated equally and
with the same opportunities. No matter if it’s a renter calling you to inquire about an apartment or a
prospective buyer calling you to view a building, simply treat each person the same with openness and
allow each person the same opportunity as the next person. Property owners also need to be aware
that accommodations will also need to be made with certain handicap statuses (under reasonable
modifications and efforts), to make the apartment, the building, the general environment within the
apartment vicinity fit the needs of prospective renters with disabilities. The housing laws require
owners to make, “reasonable” accommodations/modifications (such as accepting service/companion
animals in a “no pets” building or building a ramp to make the building handicap accessible) in order to
allow a person of disability to have equal opportunities as the next person and also to enjoy the full use
of his/her housing.

In the end, regardless whether you are dealing with people under these protective classes or not, every
landlord must remember to always provide each individual with the same opportunities and the full
ability to live in their units. Failure to do so would not only be very costly for you (whether if its actual
damages, punitive damages or civil damages), it will also harm those who are affected by it first hand.
Landlords must also relate all Fair Housing related information to those working for them such as on-
site managers, real estate agents, leasing companies, etc. For more detailed information regarding
Fair Housing Laws and potential penalties if not followed correctly, please visit: US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development