The Fair Housing Act is a fairly extensive and complex set of laws. From Part I, we explained how steering and financing are very important pieces in the Fair Housing Act puzzle. There are quite a few more areas to look out for though, including:

Sales and Rentals – You cannot refuse to sell, rent, or even refuse to negotiate the sale of real estate based on race, sex, color, etc. For renters, it’s important to know your Fair Housing laws, because many smaller landlords will try to get away with breaking quite a few of the rules. Not only is it illegal for a landlord to refuse a tenant their right to inspect the property, but they also must keep all costs (i.e. rental amount, deposit amount, etc.) completely fair and equal across the board for every applicant. There are a few exemptions on selling and leasing property, so it’s important to do your research if you feel you may have been discriminated against.

Advertising – One of the easiest ways to break a Fair Housing law is to advertise to a specific group of people or to advertise a limitation or discrimination based on race, religion, color, etc. This means that there can be no advertising of “male only” or “bachelor-pad apartments” can be made. While it’s usually real estate professionals that are prosecuted for breaking these advertising rules, it’s still important as a homeowner to know about these laws. Advertising your home as “kid-friendly” or in a “family community” is discrimination against the protected group of familial status.

Exemptions – There are quite a few exemptions to these laws, and it’s important to do your research before filing a complaint. Working with disabled tenants can be a bit tricky, since they have special needs that you are sometimes able or unable to accommodate. The general rule for anyone with disabilities is to allow them to make changes to the property as they see fit, as long as they can leave the unit in the exact same condition it was in before.

While there are some exemptions, if you feel you’ve been wronged it’s important that you speak up, you must file your complaint through the Equal Opportunity of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Everyone deserves to have their dream house (or apartment) and as long as a candidate is qualified, nothing and no one has a right to stand in their way.

For more information on Fair Housing Laws, or to check out our Berkeley Real Estate for sale, please visit us at PorchLight.

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