Fair Housing - Oro Valley Real Estate
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Whether you’re buying, selling or renting, there are laws in place to ensure that if you’re a member of a protected class, you’re treated just the same as anyone else. Known as the Fair Housing Act, these regulations strive to create an even playing field for everyone. It’s important to be aware of these laws because they’re not just for real estate agents, landlords and lenders — they apply to you, too.
What is the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act is the federal law that grants fair housing protections and rights to renters, buyers and borrowers. The Act was originally adopted as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and it was subsequently broadened in 1988 to include other means of enforcement and protected classes like disability and familial status.
What does equal housing opportunity mean?
Equal housing opportunity is the notion that all persons should be granted the same chances when it comes to choosing housing. This law is administered and enforced by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), an office within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). HUD was given enforcement responsibility by the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
What is housing discrimination?
Housing discrimination occurs when you’re treated differently at any point in the real estate journey due to your inclusion in a protected class. Most of the people you encounter in your home search, including real estate agents, sellers, landlords, property management companies and lenders, are bound to Fair Housing Act regulations and additional state and local laws, based on where you live or are looking to live. Fair Housing Act violations can occur in all phases of buying and renting, including in advertising, while you search, throughout the application process, in financing or credit checks, and during eviction proceedings. Examples of housing discrimination
Much of the Fair Housing Act is aimed at the appraisal and lending phases of the home-buying process. This ensures protected classes are treated fairly by lenders, which historically has been an area with a high rate of discrimination. A few examples of illegal discrimination include:
Appraisal discrimination: An appraiser can’t devalue a home based on a homeowner’s protected class.
Mortgage discrimination: This includes refusing to offer a loan or financial assistance and also withholding certain loan information from borrowers.
Rental and sales discrimination: Sellers and landlords can’t refuse to lease or sell to someone based on their protected class. The opposite is also true — they can’t play favorites — which is one of the reasons why writing “love letters” to sellers is not a recommended practice.
What classes are protected from housing discrimination?
In fair housing terms, discrimination means treating someone differently because they are part of a protected class. Beyond the federal fair housing laws, state and local laws may provide further protection to buyers, sellers and renters in additional protected classes, some of which are summarized below.
Protected classes under federal law:
Race Color Religion Sex National origin Familial status Physical or mental disability
Protected classes under state and local law can include:
Citizenship Age Veteran or military status Genetic information Sexual orientation Gender identity or expression Criminal history
What do I do if I’ve been discriminated against?
If you’ve been discriminated against in any of the ways above, or if you suspect that other actions taken by a property manager, landlord, real estate agent, broker or lender may be discriminatory, there are many resources at your disposal. File a report: File a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at HUD.gov. You can also file a complaint with local housing advocates found through the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA).
Get more info from local housing agencies: You can find a list of local housing counselors at HUD.gov. Separately from handling discrimination claims, these counselors provide home buyer education workshops and pre-purchase counseling.
Talk to an attorney: Like any other legal issue, when pursuing a complaint under the Fair Housing Act, it’s smart to consult a lawyer.