Staying Informed on Fair Housing for Buyers and Renters
Last month we introduced our audience to The Fair Housing Act, an initiative that dates back to 1968. The FHA is integral to protecting the public from discrimination when shopping for a home. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, the Fair Housing Act can help to protect you from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disabilities. Refer to our blog from last month, linked above, for more information on the history of how this act came about, as well as additional resources you might find helpful.
So you’re ready to start the process of looking for your next home for you and your family. How do you know if a landlord, seller, or bank is violating the Fair Housing Act? Your first step should be to seek out a qualified REALTOR®. The benefits of using a REALTOR® will serve you beyond the topic we’re covering today. However, a qualified professional can also help you navigate tricky situations where discrimination can rear its ugly head.
Fair Housing for Buyers
When you’re looking for a home, you’re entitled to a level playing field. This means choosing the neighborhood you’d like to live in, as well as being informed of all the financing options available to you. Fair Housing helps protect these rights and discourages discriminatory practices, which The Fair Housing Center describes well:
“Discriminatory practices in real estate sales or lending can have a harmful effect on our community. Unfair policies reinforce segregated living patterns and prevent the creation of diverse neighborhoods. Local economies may suffer from decreased property values, loss of tax revenue, reduced population, and diminished business activity. Decreased homeownership threatens the stability and strength of our communities.”
As a buyer, don’t be afraid to ask questions as you’re looking for the right home. Be aware of the some of the following red flags that can tip you off to scenarios that violate the FHA:
- Unusual persuasion or discouragement towards purchasing a home in a particular neighborhood
- Unwillingness to sell a home or offer loans in specific neighborhoods based on the ethnicity of the current residents
- Excessive interest rates and/or fees when securing a loan
- Approving a home loan without considering your ability to repay
You can find additional information on unscrupulous practices to watch out for here.
Fair Housing for Renters
The Fair Housing Act is not only limited to protecting prospective home buyers. As a renter, you are absolutely entitled to the same protections as someone who is looking to buy. Landlords are not permitted to restrict access to rentals due to any of the factors listed in the FHA (race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disabilities).
HomeLight’s article on Fair Housing outlines a real situation where a landlord made it difficult for an individual to secure a rental:
“An example can be found in one recent lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. The lawsuit alleges that, when talking with a prospective Black tenant, the landlord indicated a preference to rent to a white tenant. The landlord then failed to complete paperwork to help the Black tenant receive assistance with her security deposit, effectively preventing her from renting.”
The Fair Housing Act goes beyond the initial process of securing a rental. The Act will also protect you from discriminatory practices after you’ve moved in as well. Landlords are not permitted to restrict access to any amenities or privileges extended to all tenants if it pertains to your ethnicity or gender, for example. There are even provisions that cover accommodations for disabilities, requiring landlords to make physical modifications to the property as requested by the tenant.
We wish you all the luck in finding your next home and hope the above information was helpful. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’re looking for an exceptional REALTOR® in Ulster County, NY. We’d be delighted to help you in your search!