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April Is National Fair Housing Month

National Fair Housing Month is a bit more than half over, but it’s an important time to raise awareness of Fair Housing laws, how they affect mortgage loan applicants, and how such laws affect renters as well as borrowers. Do you know about your Fair Housing Act rights under the law?

The FHA/HUD official site reminds its’ readers, “The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children”.

You read that correctly-as a renter, a buyer, or an applicant, your rights include equal consideration regardless of the presence or absence of any of the factors listed above. Fair Housing laws do have some important caveats to be aware of, however, as the FHA/HUD official site explains.

“The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.”

What are your specific rights and protections under Fair Housing Act regulations? When it comes to selling or renting a home or apartment unit, “No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:

-Refuse to rent or sell housing
-Refuse to negotiate for housing
-Make housing unavailable
-Deny a dwelling
-Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
-Provide different housing services or facilities
-Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
-For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
-Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.”

When it comes to applying for a mortgage loan, “No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability):

-Refuse to make a mortgage loan
-Refuse to provide information regarding loans
-Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
-Discriminate in appraising property
-Refuse to purchase a loan or
-Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.”

If you believe any of the above have happened to you in the search for a home regardless of wanting to purchase or rent, visit the HUD official site and look to the right where the box titled File A Complaint is located. You can select an English language complaint form or any of the other available translations (including Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Arabic among others) and follow the directions on the form. You can also call (800)669-9777 for assistance.

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