Fair housing is a legal concept that aims to provide equal access to homes, neighborhoods, and other buildings that are designed for people of a particular racial or ethnic group. It is based on the equal protection and consideration of all persons similarly situated to others, including people of different races, ethnicities, religions, or nationalities. This principle is primarily intended to prevent unjust discrimination against people from certain groups at the detriment of others. It also aims to ensure that fair housing benefits and opportunities are extended to all individuals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
Fair housing is a controversial issue, because in some instances it has been used to discriminate against certain classes of people. For instance, certain states have enacted laws that limit the amount of time that an owner can rent out his property to a certain race of person. In other cases, landlords have gone as far as requiring tenants to avoid renting to certain individuals. Regardless of its intentions, this practice has often forced certain groups of people into conditions that they would not otherwise find themselves in.
Renting or leasing one’s home is a right protected by the United States Constitution and is a form of property ownership. Landlords have long taken advantage of this right by choosing not to rent to individuals on the basis of their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected category. Anti-discrimination laws in this country should be used to ensure that this kind of abuse against minorities is not a consistent practice. Unfortunately, many landlords are not aware that such practices are illegal. As such, they continue to subject prospective tenants and homeowners to anti-discrimination and unfair housing practices.
Some religious organizations have sought amendments to fair housing laws so that renters could be prohibited from renting properties that promote certain religions. The National Catholic Register and the Lutheran Church have both filed lawsuits against apartment complexes and landlords who refuse to allow tenants to rent homes or apartments that conform to their faith. Both of these institutions believe that it is a violation of their rights under the U.S. Constitution for a landlord to turn down a tenant based solely on religious beliefs. The litigation against these cases illustrates how important it is for religious institutions to voice their opinions in court. Without these protections, all Americans will be left to live like anyone else in fear of being fired from their jobs for acting according to their beliefs.
Many fair housing laws target renters rather than landlords. This is because renters are often targets of harassment and discrimination by landlords. As such, it is up to renters to watch for signs that their landlord may be engaging in practices against them based on their religion, national origin, gender, etc. Signs such as no pets allowed and others that serve to demean and discriminate against a protected class. If a landlord refuses to allow a protected class of people to rent an apartment or house, then that landlord has taken advantage of the Fair Housing Act and is guilty of discrimination.
The Federal government has created the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which is designed to help improve the quality of life for people who are victims of discrimination and those who have been the victims of violence in their homes. Another section of fair housing law is called the Fair Credit Billing Act, which protects those who have been the victims of discrimination and violence in other situations and is designed to protect their rights in credit card purchases. This section of fair housing regulation was created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and local fair housing enforcement agencies.