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Why is it so important to know your rights under the federal Fair Housing Act? Violations of this act include the obvious--discrimination at any stage of the housing process including lending, rentals, housing services, etc. is illegal under Fair Housing laws.

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Fair Housing Laws: Know Your Rights!

June 26, 2021

Fair Housing Laws: Know Your Rights!
Why is it so important to know your rights under the federal Fair Housing Act? Violations of this act include the obvious--discrimination at any stage of the housing process including lending, rentals, housing services, etc. is illegal under Fair Housing laws.

But there are some not-so-obvious rights, too. Did you know that it’s illegal for a landlord, lender, seller, or housing services provider to discriminate against you for having or needing a service animal? This, too, is a violation of Fair Housing laws.

The service animal issue is a common complaint lodged with HUD officials. One excellent 2021 example involves a case in Niagara Falls, New York where HUD says a landlord violated federal law by refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to a rental tenant who needed an assistance animal.

The landlord was charged with this alleged violation of Fair Housing laws as well as a second charge of retaliation against the tenant by processing an eviction notice on them.

The FHA and HUD official sites remind consumers that Fair Housing Act regulations make it a crime for housing providers to discriminate “against individuals with disabilities, including refusing to make reasonable accommodations in policies or practices” when those accommodations “may be necessary to provide such individuals an equal opportunity to use or enjoy a dwelling.”

In this particular case, that would include allowing someone with disabilities to keep a service animal or assistance animal in the home. That is true even when the landlord has a no pets policy. Pets and service animals are dramatically different and there are multiple protections for those who use trained service animals under the Fair Housing Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, etc.

Why do we discuss housing discrimination in rental properties on a site dedicated to home loans?

Because discrimination at ANY stage of the housing process potentially interferes with the purchase of a new home. If you cannot rent while house hunting due to illegal discrimination, it has a chilling effect on your ability to buy a home at all.

Such violations of fair housing laws should be reported to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as soon as they are known.
 
If you suspect you have been discriminated against at any stage of the house hunting process including renting an apartment or home while you seek a more permanent solution, it’s crucial to report such violations.

Otherwise, the illegal discrimination may continue. Sometimes the only persons with the power to prevent future discrimination from the same source are the current victims of that illegal activity.

If you need to report a violation of the Fair Housing Act, contact the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (relay).

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