Fair Housing... It's the Law

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 05 August 2014 07:21
Daniel J. Jachimiak Daniel J. Jachimiak

The civil rights laws that affect the real estate industry ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live where they choose.


The federal government's effort to guarantee equal housing opportunities to all U.S. citizens began with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, an outgrowth of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  This law prohibits any type of discrimination based on race


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, or national origin.  In 1974 the Housing and Community Development Act added sex to the list of protected classes.  In 1988 the Fair Housing Amendments Act included disability and familial status (i.e., households with children).  Today these laws are known as the Federal Fair Housing Act.  The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin.  The Act also prohibits discrimination against individuals because of their association with persons in the protected classes.


This law is administered by HUD.


HUD's definitions:  Housing - the regulations define housing as a "dwelling" which includes any building or part of a building designed for occupancy as a residence by one or more families.  Familial Status - refers to the presence of one or more individuals who have not reached the age of 18 and who live with either a parent or guardian.  Disability - a physical or mental impairment.  People with AIDS qualify.


Exemptions:  a.)  owner occupied buildings with no more than 4 units; b.) single family housing sold or rented without the use of a licensee; c.) housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.  The sale or rental of a single family home is exempt from the Fair Housing Act when the home is owned by an individual who does not own more than 3 such houses at one time.


Ohio fair housing law is substantially the same as the federal version.  The provisions of the Ohio Fair Housing Law are enforced by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.  A person who is discriminated against in housing has 6 months after the incident to file a written complaint with the Commission.  Fed is up to 12 months to file with HUD.  Up to $10K fine for the first offense in Ohio; up to $50K fine for federal offense.

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