Fair Housing Law
May 27th, 2011
The Law Says..
Federal law requires that all people be treated equally and prohibits discrimination in the housing industry throughout the United States. The law also applies to mortgages, insurance and rental housing. The Federal Fair Housing Law makes discrimination illegal against individuals based on their sex, age, race, color, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, handicap or family status. These groups are known as “protected classes”. In some states, there are additional protected classes and requirements.
Ethics And The Law
The real estate industry has adopted this law into their code of ethics. This means all people must be treated equally with respect to the terms, conditions or equal housing opportunities. Agents are obligated to offer the same number and range of listings to prospective minority buyers, also ensure that minority prospects received the same degree of follow-up and the same level of quality service.
Real estate agents who do not follow the law and adhere to this code of ethics are subject to possible civil damages and penalties, loss of license, fines and in some cases, criminal punishment. It is an obligation that can not be taken lightly.
How do you know when your rights of been violated? Here are some general situations that are illegal:
- referring the minority prospect to another broker of the same minority
- failing to present or delaying the offer of a minority buyer to the seller
- offering the property on less favorable terms by differentiating the conditions of the sale to minorities
- showing minority buyers only those listings in minority or transitional neighborhoods
- “steering” minorities away from more positive neighborhoods by downgrading the advantage of the home or neighborhood
The home seller and landlord are also obligated to abide by the Federal Fair Housing Law. Here is how a home seller can adhere to the law:
- do not ask your broker to convey any discriminatory limitations
- do not ask the broker to refrain from showing the home to any of the aforementioned minorities
- do not refuse to deal with the minority when the situation arises
- report an agent who approaches you about selling due to the minority purchases in your area
What if …
What if you believe your civil rights or those of others have been handled in a less-than-favorable manner. There are many steps you can take to correct the situation. You can complain to the management of the company, the local real estate board or you may get assistance from local and state agencies fighting to eliminate this type of discrimination. Be careful not to misinterpret an agent’s actions. Consider the behavior carefully before deeming it is discriminatory.
For more information on what to do if you feel you have been discriminated against go to this website: http://www.civilrights.org/fairhousing/laws/state-agencies.html
It is quite clear that the Federal government is aware of the important step both home seller and buyer are taking. In an effort to protect their economic destiny, they’ve created law. The law states that all individuals have the right to an equal opportunity in housing; thus protecting individual hopes, dreams and aspirations. Compliance with the law is the responsibility of the real estate industry, the individual real estate companies and their agents and the home seller and landlord.
Equal opportunity is a legal doctrine in the law that we need to subscribe to.
If you have questions ask them and I will answer you!