If you are in the market for a new house, you most likely have come across the Equal Housing Opportunity logo. The symbol is an equal sign inside of a house, usually seen on a landlord’s, real estate agent’s, or lender’s paperwork. This represents the Fair Housing Act. If you are searching for a house, you should understand the importance of the Fair Housing Act before moving forward. Read on and reach out to our experienced Pennsylvania real estate attorneys to learn more:
What is the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act, also known as the Civil Rights Act, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. This is a federal law that exists to protect renters and buyers from discrimination. The goal of the act is to prevent housing discrimination based upon a person’s sex, race, religion, color, national origin, disability, familial status, etc.
What are Examples of Housing Discrimination?
During a home search, people generally interact with real estate agents, sellers, landlords, property management companies, lenders, and more. These individuals are all bound to the regulations of the Fair Housing Act, as well as other state and local laws. Violations of the act can occur in any phase of buying or renting a property. These violations may occur in advertising, searching, the application process, credit checks, eviction proceedings, etc. Examples of housing discrimination can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Trying to keep a buyer away from a particular neighborhood
- Avoiding renting a property by saying the unit was already rented when it is not
- Evicting a person of color for a reason they would not evict another tenant for
- Not renting to a family with children or requiring such a family to pay a higher deposit
- Asking questions or requiring excessive documentation from an immigrant couple when they would not for another buyer
- Charging a single woman a higher interest rate than others
- Refusing to make accommodations for a disabled tenant
What Do I Do If I Was Discriminated Against?
If you were discriminated against by anyone who is obligated to provide you with an equal opportunity for housing, you must take legal action against them. When facing these circumstances, you have the following options:
- File a report with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A complaint can also be filed with local housing resources through the National Fair Housing Alliance.
- Gather information from local housing agencies. Counselors at HUD can answer questions, provide education workshops, and pre-purchase counseling and rental housing assistance.
- Retain the services of an experienced real estate attorney.
- Surround yourself with people you can trust while searching for a home. This can include reaching out to family members, friends, and colleagues to find recommended real estate agents, mortgage brokers, lenders, etc.
Contact our Firm
Friedman Schuman is an experienced and dedicated legal resource for clients throughout Pennsylvania. We proudly serve clients facing a wide range of legal matters. If you require the services of an effective attorney, please contact Friedman Schuman today to schedule a consultation.