Just days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., President Lyndon B. Johnson made history as he penned his signature to the Fair Housing Act. Fifty years later, this federal law continues to protect buyers and renters alike from discrimination.
The Fair Housing Act, synonymous with the Civil Rights Act of 1968, rejects housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and (as added in 1988) disability and familial status. While housing discrimination may not be as obvious in this day in age, it still remains an unfortunate and embarrassing reality. In fact, the National Fair Housing Alliance reported that 25,000 plus discrimination complaints were filed in 2017. Race complaints made up twenty percent of the complaints that were filed while over half consisted of disability discrimination complaints. It is estimated that over four million discrimination events occur on an annual basis. In fact, many citizens don’t even know they’ve experienced discrimination nor which steps they should take when such circumstances occur.
While most of America is bound by the conditions of the Fair Housing Act, discriminatory violations can and do occur throughout all aspects of property procurement. Agent steering, eviction without reason, charging higher interest rates for one race or sex versus another and the refusal to make reasonable accommodations for disabled veterans are just a few examples of discrimination.
Here’s what you can do if you find yourself in a discriminatory situation:
1. – File a report. The Department of Housing and Urban Development stands at the ready to correct discrimination wrongs. NFHA is also an entity with which such complaints should be filed.
2. – Research local housing agencies. Visit HUD.gov for a list of local housing counselors who are available to answer questions pertaining to discrimination claims and provide buyer education via workshops and rental housing assistance.
3. – Legal consultation. Housing discrimination is a serious business. Consult a lawyer just as you would for other legal matters to find out the best way to proceed.
4. – Consult your peers. Talk to those you trust to seek referrals for new professionals with whom you may work.
Related: “New Year, New Realtor”