Each April, HUD observes Fair Housing Month, in honor of the 1968 Fair Housing Act that prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status.
This year, HUD is encouraging rental applicants and tenants to exercise their rights under the Act.
In addition to the legal protections provided under the Fair Housing Act prohibiting housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and family status, approximately 20 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 150 cities, towns and counties across the nation also prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and families.
In 2012, HUD published new regulations to ensure that the Department’s core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Twelve states and the District of Columbia, as well as several counties and municipalities
protect persons against housing discrimination based on their source of income.
A review of recent prosecutions shows confirms that HUD is making good on its promise to
pursue cases where tenants with disabilities have been denied companion animals, and
families denied housing on occupancy limits. A new ruling also clarifies that, while a
policy may not be discriminatory on its face, a landlord may still be prosecuted if that
policy causes a more subtle, “disparate” impact.
Landlords should take the time to review leasing policies for possible discrimination.
Some common areas to avoid include:
Rental ads that discourage protected tenants from applying;
Steering a protected tenant towards or away from a particular property;
Occupancy limits based on 2-per bedroom have come under scrutiny — avoid turning away
families if the property has a “bonus” room, loft, office or den that could easily be converted into a sleeping area.
Denying companion animals for tenants with disabilities, or applying any pet policies in that situation.
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