What Do You Need to Know About the Federal Fair Housing Act?
Like everyone else, the federal Fair Housing Act protects you from any form of discrimination related to housing. The law provides equal opportunity for everyone to buy or rent a home, take out a mortgage, find housing assistance, or be part of any housing-related activities.
Although the federal law had been passed decades ago and had undergone several amendments, many people still experience housing discrimination just like what happened to a couple who thought that they had found a perfect home in a Stockton, California neighborhood. The dream home turned into a nightmare after Esai Manzo and his wife found a “racist requirement” in one of the documents that they needed to sign. Manzo, who identify himself as of Hispanic descent, found a clause that says, “no one can purchase or live in the home unless they are “wholly of the white caucasion [sic] race”. Although racially restrictive covenants had been declared as invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948, and the homeowner can do something to amend the agreement, Manzo is still thinking twice if he will sign the documents.
As someone planning to buy or rent a home, you may find it frustrating if you feel that you are being treated differently. Nowadays, some form of housing discrimination practices still exists, but in a subtle way. There are actions you can take if you think that you’re being discriminated against your right to housing.
The Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 in a nutshell
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits direct providers of housing to reject or deny you the right to access housing because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, age, or disability. The Act also provides limited protection if you’re a former drug addict or a recovering alcoholic.
However, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family homes that are sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent, qualified senior housing, housing facilities owned and run by religious groups and private clubs that limit occupancy to their members.
Housing discrimination is outright wrong because it prevents people from having a quality life based on their preference.
Actions you can take if you experience any form of housing discrimination
Agents trying to convince you to find a home in another neighborhood and real estate businesses offering you predatory rent-to-own deals are just some of the common examples of housing discrimination. As someone looking for a better place to live in, being discriminated against may limit your options and greatly affect you as a person. If you’re trying to buy a home, taking out a mortgage, or looking for a home to rent, direct housing providers should only screen you based on your capability to repay, not by your classification as a person. If you feel that you’re experiencing housing discrimination, there are actions you can take to fight such bad practices.
You can either report possible discrimination or file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). When filing a complaint, you need to download a form that comes in several languages and you need to email it to your local Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity office. Keep in mind that there are time limits when filing a complaint and you need to provide information including a short description of the events wherein you believe your rights were violated.
Moreover, if you file a complaint about a financial product to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) they can turn it into action and help you get a response from the company.
The LendUS family advocates for Fair Housing
At LendUS, we highly believe that everyone is entitled to fair housing and credit. Give us a call today if you’re out shopping for a mortgage to buy a home. Our professional loan advisors can work for you to help fulfill your homeownership dreams.