What is Fair Housing and How Does It Affect Me?

(July 01, 2014) / by Jean Jones

Fair-Housing

In the late 1960s the U.S. federal government enacted The Fair Housing Act, making it illegal to refuse to sell to, rent to, or negotiate with a person because of that person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status or handicap.

Springs Apartments takes the Act very seriously, as we do the Civil Rights Act, The American’s with Disabilities Act (ADD), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and all relevant state and local laws related to renting. We are committed to offering equal housing opportunities to all who are interested in one of our communities and/or who apply for a lease.

Here’s a brief overview of the Fair Housing Act and the protections it offers you as a renter or potential renter.

What’s Prohibited:

It is illegal for anyone to take any of the actions below based on a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status or handicap:

  • Refuse to rent (or sell) housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for the rental (or sale) of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection or rental (or sale)
  • For profit, persuade owners to rent (or sell)
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the rental (or sale) of housing

It’s also illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap

Protection For Those With Disabilities:

There are also laws in place to protect people with disabilities. The Act makes it illegal to discriminate against those who have a physical or mental disability, hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex, and mental retardation that limits one or more major life activities. 

As it related to disabilities, landlords may not refuse to make reasonable modifications to a dwelling or the property’s common areas (at the tenant’s expense) if needed for the disabled person to be able to use the housing. In this case, the landlord may allow these modifications only if the tenant agrees to restore the property to its original condition when the tenant moves away. In addition, the landlord may not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in the property’s policies or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.

However, a landlord or property owner is not obligated to make housing available to a person who poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, or who currently uses illegal drugs.

Requirements for New Buildings:

According to the Act, new buildings (specifically, those ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991) with an elevator and with four or more units, must comply to the following:

  • Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
  • Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
  • All units must have an accessible route into and through the unit, accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls, reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars, and kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.

If a building with four or more units has no elevator (ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991), these standards apply to ground floor units.

The Act also states that if a State’s laws or local laws for new buildings are more stringent, the Act does not replace these.

Housing for Families:

Unless a building or community qualifies as housing specifically for older persons, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with a parent, a person with legal custody of the child(ren), or the designee of the parent, or legal custodian with the parent’s or custodian’s written permission. Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.

This is just a basic overview of the protections offered by The Fair Housing Act; to read more about your rights as a renter, go to the United States Department of Justice website: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/hce/housing_coverage.php

The Springs team welcomes any questions regarding the Act and our ongoing compliance with it; please reach out to us to learn more.

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Topics: About Springs Apartments, Apartment Living


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