What You Should Know About Fair Housing
April 14, 2017 | by Michael Wilt
April is Fair Housing Month as it commemorates the passage of the Fair Housing Act on April 11, 1968. The historic piece of legislation expanded on previous laws to prohibit housing discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, and (as amended) disability and family status.
In past On the House entries, we've focused on specific fair housing issues like protections for renters with service animals and rental policies for tenants with criminal histories. In this entry, we take a broader look at fair housing protections and what to do if you think your rights have been violated.
What is Prohibited Under the Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act applies to all housing, in both public and private communities, with very limited exceptions. It prohibits the following unfair or illegal housing practices:
- Refusing to rent or sell housing
- Refusing to negotiate for housing
- Making housing unavailable
- Otherwise 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, or try to persuade homeowners to sell or rent dwellings by suggesting that people of a particular protected class have moved or about to move into the neighborhood. This is known as “blockbusting.”
- Deny any person access to or membership in a facility or service (such as multiple listing services) related to the sale or rental of housing
- Deny property insurance
Visit TSAHC's Fair Housing web page for more information on other fair housing protections for home buyers, persons with disabilities, and seniors.
If You Think Your Rights Have Been Violated
The Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division (TWCCRD) enforces the federal Fair Housing Act and the Texas Fair Housing Act. Complaints are investigated by TWCCRD and coordinated with The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
You have one year after an alleged violation to file a complaint with TWCCRD, but you should file it as soon as possible. Be prepared to provide the following information:
- Your name and address
- The name and address of the person your complaint is against (the Respondent)
- The address or other identification of the housing involved
- A short description of the alleged violation (the event that caused you to believe your rights were violated)
- The date(s) of the alleged violation
To file a complaint, you can call the office directly at (888) 452-4778, or write to:
Texas Workforce Commission
Civil Rights Division
1117 Trinity Street, Room 144-T
Austin, Texas 78701
TWCCRD also provides a TTY phone for the deaf/hearing impaired users at (512) 371-7473 and assistance in reading and completing forms.
*Photo Credit: "Lbjsigningbill" by Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lbjsigningbill.jpg
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