Individuals are protected from a wide range of discriminatory acts under both state and federal law. For instance, the Fair Housing Act specifically protects people from being discriminated against when buying or renting a home, seeking housing assistance, or applying for a mortgage. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for landlords, property owners, mortgage companies, and real estate agents to violate these laws, so if you were recently denied housing because of your race, sex, familial status, or another protected characteristic, it is critical to speak with an experienced attorney who can explain your legal rights and options.
Who is Protected Under the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act bars discrimination in housing based on a person’s race, national origin, color, religion, familial status, sex, or disability. This includes a prohibition against refusing to sell or rent a house to someone, or setting different terms or conditions for the sale or rental of a property because of one of these characteristics. Federal law also makes it unlawful to take the following actions because of a person’s sex, disability, familial status, race, color, disability, or national origin:
- Falsely claiming that housing is not available for inspection, rental, or sale;
- Publishing any advertisement regarding the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates a preference in tenant;
- Imposing different prices or charges for the sale or rental of a property;
- Using different qualification criteria for the sale or rental of a property, such as income standards, application fees, and credit checks;
- Failing to perform maintenance or repairs;
- Imposing different conditions or terms on a loan, such as internet rates, fees, or points;
- Refusing to provide financial assistance for a dwelling; or
- Retaliating against someone for filing a fair housing complaint.
In addition to these prohibitions, landlords and property owners are required to make reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities.
How to File a Housing Discrimination Complaint
Those whose rights to fair housing have been violated can file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These complaints must include certain information, including:
- The claimant’s name and address;
- The name and contact information of the organization against whom the complaint is being filed;
- A description of the discriminatory act in question; and
- The dates of the alleged violation.
Once a complaint has been properly submitted, either online or through the mail, the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) will conduct an investigation into the allegations. After an investigation has been conducted, the FHEO creates a statement of its findings, at which point, it can attempt to help the parties reach a conciliation agreement, or file a civil rights claim on the wronged party’s behalf. In the latter situation, the agency could seek compensation for the wronged parties, as well as mandatory changes to procedures and policy, and employee retraining.
An Experienced Riverside Civil Rights Attorney
Please call the dedicated civil rights lawyers at Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP today to learn more about how we can help you protect your own legal rights. A member of our Riverside legal team can be reached at calling 951-686-4800, or via online message.