Fair housing is not just a fancy term, but a real necessity in the real estate industry across the globe.

Hello, fellow New Yorkers! Did you know that despite progress, housing discrimination is still a significant concern in the Big Apple?

According to recent data, reports of housing discrimination have been on the rise, highlighting the urgent need to address this issue head-on. Not only in New York but several housing discrimination complaints have been recorded nationwide. If you don’t believe, here are some numbers (as numbers never lie, do they?).

As per the data provided by the National Fair Housing Alliance, the most number of fair housing complaints ever recorded in a single year nationwide was 33,007, which came in 2022. The data also shows that discrimination based on disability accounted for the majority of complaints with a whopping 53.26%.

In addition, 2,490 sex-based complaints were received, which is the most since 2005. Despite the huge volume of complaints, the majority of cases of housing discrimination remain unreported or unnoticed.

The Fair Housing Act aims to prevent discriminatory practices that exclude people from housing opportunities because of circumstances outside of their control. In the quest for fair housing in the U.S., people as well as families have rights that this crucial legislative shield seeks to defend.

In this blog, let’s shed light on housing discrimination by taking a closer look at the Fair Housing Act.

Fair Housing Act: Understanding The Concept

To help you gain a better understanding of the concept of the Fair Housing Act, we have listed a few questions and answers below. Have a glance!

What Is Fair Housing?

In simple terms, fair housing is equal and free access to residential housing – that is a housing choice.

What Is the Fair Housing Act?

Basically, it’s a law that says discrimination in housing is prohibited. This law prohibits discriminatory housing practices and housing market denials to individuals based on factors they can’t control.

When you are renting, buying, or financing your home, this law protects you from discrimination based on your:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Family status

When And Why Was The Act Established?

The Fair Housing Act was established in 1968 and came out of the civil rights era activism.
The need for the Fair Housing Act stems from a long history of discrimination and segregation in the housing sector.

Before its enactment, many marginalized communities faced blatant discrimination when trying to rent or purchase a home. The Fair Housing Act seeks to rectify these injustices by prohibiting discrimination based on protected characteristics, also promoting diversity and inclusion in housing.

Whom Does The Act Protect?

Although the Fair Housing Act applies to New York City, it is a federal law. The law believes that housing is a basic right that should be accessible to every American. It safeguards borrowers, buyers, and tenants and strives to end discrimination in public and private housing on a nationwide scale.

Who Should Abide By This Act?

All individuals and entities active in the housing market have an ethical duty to abide by this regulation. This covers everyone engaged in a home transaction, such as lenders, appraisers, real estate agents, landlords, and property managers.

A Few Examples Of Housing Discrimination

A landlord refusing to rent to a family with young children, citing concerns about noise, could constitute familial status discrimination. Similarly, denying housing to an individual because of their disability or nationality is a clear violation of the law.

What Are The Protected Classes?

A protected class comprises individuals who have historically been discriminated against due to a particular attribute. This Act, along with the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws, protects individuals belonging to protected classes against housing discrimination on both state and city levels.

The protected classes are safeguarded against housing discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex
  • National origin
  • Religion or creed
  • Disability
  • Family status

The New York Fair Housing Act also protects individuals from discrimination based on the following factors in addition to the above federally protected classes:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Citizenship status
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Military status
  • Lawful occupation
  • Lawful source of income
  • Partnership status
  • Status as a victim of domestic violence, sex crimes, or stalking.

What Is Prohibited Under The Fair Housing Act?

The Fair Housing Act strictly prohibits various forms of discriminatory practices. Some common discriminatory practices include:

1. Refusing to rent or sell housing to an individual based on their protected characteristics.
2. Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for housing based on a person’s protected status.
3. Making false representations about the availability of housing to deter certain groups from applying.
4. Harassing, intimidating, or coercing individuals to prevent them from exercising their fair housing rights.
5. Failing to accommodate reasonable requests for disability-related accommodations, such as wheelchair ramps.

What Type of Housing Is Covered?

The Fair Housing Act applies to most housing. However, the Act exempts from its provisions some types of housing, including:

  • Single family houses sold or rented without the help of a broker,
  • Owner-occupied structures with no more than four units, and
  • Housing operated private clubs with limited members’ occupancy.

Furthermore, just like the Federal Housing Law, New York also has its own exemptions which are as follows:

  • Either one or two owner-occupied family home buildings
  • Room rentals in housing for same-sex individuals.
  • Room rentals in owner-occupied housing

The Final Say

If you believe you’ve experienced housing discrimination, you can file a complaint not only with the U.S. Department of Housing but also Urban Development (HUD) through various modes.

Ensuring equal access to housing is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative. Not only by understanding your rights under the Fair Housing Act but also taking action against discrimination, you can help create a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

Looking to ease your home buying or selling experience? Get in touch with Elite Properties today.