The essence of the Fair Housing Act is that everyone aspiring to own or rent a house has the right of equal treatment from sellers, brokers, insurers and lenders. In fact, the law was enacted to discourage discriminatory practices by lenders, landlords, buyers, and renters of houses and dwelling units. It believes that every American has the right to purchase, rent or mortgage a home irrespective of skin color, sex, religion, nationality, etc. Yet, it is not a comprehensive act. There are some transactions which are beyond its purview.
Classes Protected Under the Act
There are seven classes who are protected under the Act, and they are:
- Pregnant women and those with minor children
Classes And Properties Not Protected Under Fair Housing Act
The act does not include every class and property. Certain classes and properties are outside the purview of the Act, and these are –
- Single-family homes being put up for rent or sale without a broker
- Owner-occupied homes having four or less number of units
- Private organizations or clubs which are meant only for members
- Tenants using illicit drugs
- Housing meant for elderly people are protected for them only
- Tenants indulging in drinking and smoking
- Aged people, since age is not a protected class under this act.
Nevertheless, despite these exemptions, the Fair Housing Act debars these families and homes, except member specific organizations, from making discriminatory statements while advertising their property by including discriminatory terms for any of the protected classes.
Avoiding Accusations of Discrimination While Selling Or Renting Out
Selling or renting your house or dwelling unit while adhering to the principles of the Fair Housing Act can be tricky, even if you are exempt from the law. To ensure compliance you need to:
- Be careful about what you say over the phone or in person while placing the rental ads.
- Be careful while denying tenancy to someone or some people. You can legally deny a certain group or person because of poor credit, perceived inability to pay rent, etc.
- Be careful while screening tenants. You need to invoke the same standard for everybody. So, ask for the same documents, information, fees, and referrals and go through the same practice for each potential applicant for renting or selling your property.
- Treat every applicant with dignity and respect.
- Be careful about checking the local Fair Housing Law and ensure obedience to its nuances since some states include additional classes in the Act like sexual orientation, age, student status, etc.
Goal of the Fair Housing Act
The goal of Fair Housing Act can be summarised as stopping discrimination in home selling, renting or mortgaging by any of the following means:
- Refusing to rent, sell, or negotiate for a house
- Lying about the availability of houses
- Incorporating discriminatory terms in selling or renting of homes
- Denying multiple listing or other housing-related services
- Refusing a mortgage loan
- Incorporating discriminatory terms for loans like higher interest rates or additional fees
- Adopting discriminatory activities in property appraisal.
- Making discriminatory statements while advertising for a property by adopting exclusionary terms for some of the protected classes.
- Threatening/interfering with fair housing right of any of the protected classes.
Hope this article will tell you a clear picture of the goal under the Fair Housing Act and who is not protected under the Fair Housing Act.