Fair housing is housing designed with equal access and equal opportunity for all. Housing discrimination in the United States is designed to provide fair access to housing on the basis of race, nationality, sex, or religion. Discrimination against specific groups of people usually has an anti-discrimination history, though it can also be a result of economic policies, like compulsory membership in some association or club. Hiring practices and employment practices may also discriminate against certain classes of individuals, like women, the disabled, and members of the elderly.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, otherwise known as HUD, defines fair housing as housing that is accessible, safe, and fair to both tenants and owners. Housing discrimination takes many forms. Slips and falls, mold, mildew, fire, and dangerous elevators and stairs are examples of issues that could cause claims for fair housing discrimination. Housing that is not maintained in a reasonable way is considered unprofitable and may result in claims for fair housing discrimination. Some of the most common areas of concern include:
o Radon leaching from the soil into the house and creating an environmental health risk; evidence of radon concentration can be detected in the structure and floors, walls, ceilings, doors, windows, and cabinets. o Lack of energy efficiency; energy-efficiency regulations for new homes have resulted in higher costs for consumers; if a home is built according to the Energy Star program, then it will likely require less maintenance and higher resale values. o Maintaining a fair housing standard requires regular on-site cleaning; non-permitted persons who remain in a rental dwelling without permission are subject to eviction. o If a family wishes to rent a house or condominium unit, they must not be discriminated against based on their race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin. If you believe you have been discriminated against due to any of these factors, then contact a qualified real estate professional.
When you contact a realtor to help you locate and obtain an affordable rental unit, your professional should be very familiar with fair housing laws. Most states and local governments have policies regarding discrimination, so when you discuss the possibility of renting, ensure that the realtor is aware of the local and federal laws. Additionally, ask about the national association’s fair housing policies; many realtors belong to the national association and will have information available to clients that pertains to fair housing practices. A national association’s fair housing policies can go a long way towards ensuring that you obtain an accommodation that is safe and free of legal problems.
In addition to fair housing laws, there are additional protections that are enforced by several state and federal agencies. HUD is a government agency that enforces federal laws regarding discrimination based on national origin, gender, religion, age, race, ethnicity, or disability. In addition, they also enforce additional protections against harassment and retaliation in employment and housing. For more information about how you can protect yourself from unfair housing practices and work, visit the USDA website.
The fair housing act also prohibits discrimination based on the person’s status in society, whether they are disabled or not. The Fair Housing Act covers landlord responsibilities for providing access to reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. It also protects consumers from having their civil rights violated, by businesses or landlords, if they are subject to any act of racial, religious, sex, national origin, disability, or national origin discrimination. This includes the purchasing, rental, or leasing of housing, commercial facilities, or office space. For additional information about how you can protect yourself from the risk of experiencing illegal discrimination or unlawful treatment, contact an attorney who is familiar with fair housing laws and who can offer guidance on how to resolve potential issues.