CCCSMD, a HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency, supports and promotes Fair Housing and Housing Discrimination education. As the new year approaches, many people may be ready to make homeownership their New Year’s Resolution and others may be preparing to sign new rental agreements or lease renewals. Before embarking on these endeavors, it is important to know what Fair Housing means and what to do if you feel your rights may have been violated.
What is Fair Housing?
Fair Housing is the right to choose housing free from unlawful discrimination. Fair housing rights are assured by federal, state and local fair housing laws. These laws prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of specific “protected classes”, which include race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial status, disability, marital status, and age, among others protected by local laws.
What does a violation of your Fair Housing rights look like?
Housing discrimination comes in many different forms and can range from subtle to obvious. Reviewing instances of violations of Fair Housing rights will help you recognize unlawful practices by lenders, sellers and landlords. Some examples of housing discrimination are:
- A landlord refusing to rent an apartment to a man because he is a person with a mental disability.
- A landlord lying about the availability of housing, including telling people of color, families with children or a disabled person that an apartment is already taken when it is not.
- A seller steering prospective buyers only to racially segregated neighborhoods; and • refusing to negotiate with interested buyers.
- A lender denying loans or insurance to prospective buyers of homes in certain neighborhoods.
- A rental manager charging minority tenants a larger security deposit, or higher rent, than white tenants.
- Evicting a female tenant and her family from their apartment because the tenant refused the landlord’s sexual advances.
- A landlord refusing to rent an apartment to a blind woman because she has a seeing-eye dog.
How is a complaint filed when Fair Housing rights may have been violated?
If you believe your rights may have been violated, we encourage you to submit a complaint. Because there are time limits on when a complaint can be filed with HUD after an alleged violation, you should submit a complaint as soon as possible.
When submitting a complaint, please provide as much information as possible, including:
- Your name and address;
- The name and address of the person(s) or organization your complaint is against;
- The address or other identification of the housing or program involved;
- A short description of the event(s) that cause you to believe your rights were violated; and
- The date(s) of the alleged violation.
Complaints can be filed using the following methods:
- Online (by completing this form) – https://portalapps.hud.gov/FHEO903/Form903/Form903Start.action
- Email (by downloading this form) – https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint
- Phone – (800) 669-9777 or (800) 877-8339
- Mail (by printing this form) – https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaintand then mailing it to your local Fair Housing office (list of offices available here) – https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/contact_fheo
Retaliation Is Illegal – It is illegal to retaliate against any person for making a complaint, testifying, assisting, or participating in any manner in a proceeding under HUD’s complaint process at any time, even after the investigation has been completed. The Fair Housing Act also makes it illegal to retaliate against any person because that person reported a discriminatory practice to a housing provider or other authority. If you believe you have experienced retaliation, you can file a complaint.
For more information on Fair Housing and your rights under the law, please review HUD’s Fair Housing Equal Opportunity for All pamphlet: www.hud.gov/sites/documents/FHEO_BOOKLET_ENG.PDF
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.