Civil Rights Information Center
Fair Housing: Renters and Owners
Nobody should be turned down for housing because the owner or manager does not like her religious affiliation or his skin color. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. The FHA is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and amendments were added in 1988; along with the other sections of the Civil Rights Act, the FHA is designed to provide equal opportunity in an important life matter. If you feel that you have been discriminated against in housing, contact an attorney from Law Offices of John L. Burris in Oakland, California, who can help you assert your rights.
What Is Housing Discrimination?
Housing discrimination can have devastating results, both financially and emotionally, for those who suffer it. Discrimination in housing can appear in both direct and subtle forms. Remarks such as "I don't rent any apartments to black people" are an obvious sign of discrimination, but it is usually not quite so obvious.
A more understated instance of discrimination may occur when a landlord discovers that a woman and her son, who are looking for an apartment, are going to live there alone — without the woman's husband. Suddenly, the apartment that was advertised is no longer available. This is discrimination based on familial status.
Discrimination can happen in sales of homes, too. Imagine a young couple that is ready to make an offer on a house. Their real estate agent has been in contact with the seller and her real estate agent. When the couple enters the house, the seller notices that the young man wears a yarmulke (a traditional Jewish skullcap). The seller politely informs the couple that she has changed her mind and is not ready to consider offers yet. It is possible that the seller is merely having cold feet; it is also possible, however, that the seller does not want a Jewish family to move into the neighborhood. If the seller has balked because the young man is Jewish, then she has illegally discriminated based on religion under the FHA.
If a banker increases the interest rate on a home loan because he believes that his clients, whose national origin makes him uncomfortable, will behave a certain way, that is illegal under the FHA. Businesses are prohibited from downgrading the terms of a residential real estate loan because the client is a member of a group protected by the FHA.
What to Do If You Experience Housing Discrimination
If you believe that you have been discriminated against in a real estate or rental transaction, you have recourse under the Fair Housing Act. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) processes complaints of housing discrimination. A lawyer who is experienced in civil rights law can assist you in your pursuit. Contact an attorney from Law Offices of John L. Burris in Oakland, California, to discuss your case.
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