The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination in all aspects of housing. It applies not only to renting and buying, but also to applying for a mortgage, seeking assistance, and more. The Fair Housing Act came as a part (Title VIII, to be exact) of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was signed by President Lyndon Johnson just days after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This act protects several classes. In other words, no one can discriminate against you because of the following things:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial Status 
  • Disability

Other than familial status, these classes are self-explanatory. “Familial status” refers to the presence of children in the family or a person’s pregnancy.  It can also refer to multiple generations living in the same home. 

The Fair Housing Act is enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). To test that sellers and others are complying with the act, HUD (on both a national and local level) hires people to pose as buyers or renters. These individuals are commonly referred to in the industry as “testers.”  These people must report any discriminatory practices they observe. To avoid accusations of discrimination, those working in housing must be careful with their word choice not only in writing, but also in person and on the phone.

HUD also investigates claims of housing discrimination that are reported to them and can pursue legal action against those who are discriminating.

How to Recognize Discrimination

 The following are indicators that can suggest the presence of discrimination:

  • A prospective tenant was asked to provide more or different documents from other prospective tenants.
  • A prospective tenant was told they did not qualify, based on different qualifying standards from other prospective tenants.
  • The landlord or other person involved in the situation made disrespectful remarks.

What are legitimate reasons that someone may not qualify for housing?

While you can’t deny someone housing because of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, it is still perfectly legal to turn someone away for other reasons. These include:

  • Poor credit
  • Not enough income to pay rent
  • Criminal history (although HUD put out a memorandum indicating that this may not be a valid reason for rejecting a tenant)

Who can help me with a Fair Housing issue?

If you are a landlord seeking better understanding of the Fair Housing Act, contact Atlas Law today. We provide counsel to help you handle your property properly. Our firm is unique because we can help you with your legal real estate needs across the entire state of Florida. Contact us today at (813) 241-8269.