Federal fair housing laws are important for everyone to know, whether they’re buying, selling, or even renting out a property. Fair housing laws protect buyers and tenants from being discriminated against. Buyers and renters need to know these laws to protect themselves, and sellers and landlords need to know them to keep from accidentally violating federal law. Here is what everyone needs to know about federal fair housing laws.
What is Fair Housing?
The Fair Housing Act was passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. These new fair housing laws were put in place to protect home buyers and renters from being treated unfairly or discriminated against by sellers and landlords. The Fair Housing Act also prevents sellers and landlords from advertising their properties to certain types of people.
While the Fair Housing Act originally only protected a few specific groups of people, it has expanded over the years to include many more. Today, the federal Fair Housing Act protects people based on the following:
- Skin color
- National origin
- Familial status
Other criteria can be added to the list depending on the state. For instance, some states also protect people based on their gender or sexual identities while others don’t.
Who Does Fair Housing Apply To?
Every home buyer or renter is protected by federal fair housing laws. The Fair Housing Act even covers other things, such as appraisals, home mortgages, and even homeowners insurance. This protects buyers and renters not only from being turned away from a property, but also from discrimination where they may not expect to see it. Even advertising to one group of people specifically is a fair housing violation because people can be unfairly targeted.
Examples of Fair Housing Violations
Fair housing violations can be extremely varied, so it can be difficult for some people to identify one when it happens. Here are some examples of potential fair housing violations.
- “You would be better off in a different home.”
- “You can only rent here if you speak English.”
- “This is a Christian home.”
- “If you want to keep your service dog on the premises, you need to pay the pet deposit.”
- “This neighborhood is perfect for single parents.”
Phrases like these should raise red flags in buyers or renters. If a seller or landlord makes comments that sound like they’re limiting who they’ll sell or rent to, there’s a good chance that they are violating federal fair housing laws.
What To Do In the Event of Fair Housing Violations
Fair housing violations are uncommon, but they do occur. If someone thinks they’re being discriminated against while looking for a new home or apartment, they should file a complaint through the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) as soon as possible. The FHEO will investigate the allegations. They may interview the person who filed the complaint to get more information about the situation. The FHEO will first try to get both parties to come to an agreement to resolve the complaint peacefully. If one or more parties refuse, legal action will be taken.
Fair housing violations are serious, and they need to be taken seriously in turn. Nashville home buyers who are unaware of these laws can lead to being taken advantage of or being denied housing. Or, on the part of the seller or landlord, it can lead to a federal investigation. Everyone needs to be familiar with both the federal fair housing laws and the laws in their state. Doing this can help create a better buying, selling, or leasing experience.
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