Housing discrimination at any stage of the process has negative effects on the entire industry. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to purchase or rent.
It doesn’t matter if you are a single borrower, or seek housing on behalf of a family, everyone is entitled to fair access to housing according to federal law.
Some Fair Housing rights are better understood than others. Most people understand that it is illegal for a landlord, lender, seller, or housing services provider to discriminate against you for your national origin, religion, race, family status, or other non-financial reasons.
But did you know that the same is true for having or needing a service animal? Anyone denied housing for having or needing a service animal has experienced a violation of Fair Housing laws.
There is a great recent example of such discrimination at work. This example is also a very strong case for the victims of housing discrimination to get involved and file a complaint.
There is a Fair Housing case in Niagara Falls, New York where HUD alleges a landlord violated federal law by refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to a rental tenant who needed an assistance animal.
A press release on the HUD official site states the landlord was charged with this alleged violation of Fair Housing laws. HUD also reports there is a second charge of retaliation against the tenant; this charge alleges the landlord retaliated by processing an eviction notice on the tenant.
Fair Housing Act regulations make it illegal 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” according to the HUD press release about this incident.
HUD says this includes allowing someone with disabilities keep a service animal or assistance animal in the home. And there are federal protections for those who need service animals in the home even when the landlord maintains a “no pets” policy.
Fair Housing Act violations interfere with the ability to find a new home and it does not matter whether that home is for sale or for rent; if a future house hunter cannot rent while house hunting due to illegal discrimination, it has a chilling effect on the ability to purchase a home. If you experience what you perceive to be a violation of the Fair Housing Act, report it as soon as possible.
Otherwise, discrimination may continue; there are instances where the only people able to prevent future discrimination from the same source are the current victims of that illegal activity. Report the violations!
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).