What are my rights?
Housing discrimination does occur, which is why it is good to know your rights. Under the Fair Housing Act, there are things that are illegal for landlords and realtors to do.
You cannot be discriminated against based on the following:
- Race or color
- National origin
- Familial status (families with children)
The following activities are illegal:
- Refusing to rent or sell housing
- Refusing to negotiate for housing
- Making housing unavailable
- Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental
- Provide different housing services or facilities
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
- For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting)
- Deny any access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale of housing
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules or services if necessary for a disabled person to use the housing
- Refuse to allow a disabled person to make reasonable accommodations to his/her dwelling
- Threaten or interfere with anyone making a fair housing complaint
- Refuse to provide municipal services, property insurance or hazard insurance for dwellings, or providing such services or insurance differently
If you need to report a discrimination complaint about housing, here are some very important things to include:
- Your name and address
- The name and address of the person your complaint is against
- The address of the housing involved
- A short description of the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated
- The date(s) of the alleged violation
Below are resources that you can turn to for housing discrimination information:
- This website provides you information on discrimination laws at both the federal and state levels. It gives you contact information for getting help with the enforcing laws in each state. This is a great website to fight and defend your housing rights!
Talking to Potential Landlords:
When searching for housing, here are some tips on things to discuss with a potential new landlord:
- Ask to read over the entire leasing agreement.
- Be sure to know how long the lease is for.
- Ask how much rent is per month and if utilities are included.
- Ask which company the landlord uses for gas, electric, and water.
- If utilities aren’t included, this will be important to know so you can estimate the cost of utilities per month. If they aren’t included, renters are expected to call each company and set up their own accounts. You don’t want to move in and find out there is no electric, heat, or water. Ask specific questions to your landlord, so you don’t have any unexpected surprises.
- Find out if the place is furnished.
- Find out what is expected for monthly payments and how they want those payments.
- Every landlord is a little different. Some want the monthly rent at the end of each month, some at the beginning. Some don’t accept cash or cards, only checks. Ask them the how, what, when and why’s of paying for rent.
- Get ALL of his/her/their essential contact information.
- Cell phone, email, address, and a second contact person in case of emergency.
- Be open and honest about your current and future family situation.
- This will help the landlord know what to expect and also be good for detecting possible discrimination from that landlord. Remember, housing discrimination is against the law!