April is Fair Housing Month

This April, we are putting a spotlight on fair housing laws, so that you know your rights as a renter or homeowner. The U.S. Department of Housing’s Office of Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity protects people from unlawful discrimination when renting or buying a home, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing activities. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.

What does the Fair Housing Act prohibit?

The FHA makes it illegal to take any of the following actions based on someone’s identity:

  • Refusal to rent or sell housing 
  • Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of housing
  • Impose different qualification criteria such as income standards and application fees
  • Impose different sale or rental prices 
  • Evict a tenant or tenant’s guest
  • Harassment
  • Delay or fail to provide maintenance/repairs
The Fair Housing Center of West Michigan created the above chart using data from the National Fair Housing Alliance’s 2020 Fair Housing Trends Report.

Examples of Housing Discrimination:

  • An apartment building that fails to comply with accessibility requirements for individuals who use a wheelchair is a form of disability discrimination.
  • A real estate broker meets with a Black client, and steers the client towards a neighborhood where people are “more like them.” Steering someone to a neighborhood based on his or her race is a form of race discrimination.
  • A woman falls behind on her rent payment. Her landlord agrees to extend the due date, but only if she goes out with him on a date. The landlord then threatens to evict her if she does not go out with him again. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination.

Resources for sexual harassment cases can be found here. 

Fair housing laws are meant to ensure that no one is hesitant to seek housing because of discrimination. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against in a housing transaction, you can file a complaint with HUD here.