Know Your Rights

A part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the Fair Housing Act was created to help prevent discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin in the sale, rental, or financing of housing.

These figures are probably just a fraction of the discrimination cases that year. Many people don't report discrimination in housing transactions, and some aren't even aware they've experienced discrimination.

In your home search, if someone is:

  • Refusing to sell or show you available housing

  • Telling you a home isn’t “right” for you

  • Posting ads or listings that say “no kids” or “no wheelchairs”

  • Stating that a home is no longer available when you meet face-to-face

  • Only showing you homes in areas with demographics similar to yours

In your mortgage experience, if someone is:

  • Refusing to approve a home loan or charging higher fees because of the home’s location

  • Encouraging you to take a loan with terms that are not suited to your personal financial situation (term, fees, interest rate, mortgage insurance, etc.)

  • Refusing to consider your disability income as part of your total income for loan purposes

  • Charging you fees for services that were not provided

  • Denying you a loan because you are pregnant or on maternity leave

If you think you may be a victim of housing discrimination, there are several things you can do to right the wrong. Be sure you are documenting every incident, including conversations, phone calls, emails, and texts. And remember that even if you don’t follow through with your own case, filing a complaint can help other people and protect them from experiencing the same discrimination you suffered.

Numerous organizations can be involved in investigating reports of discrimination. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) are your first stops in filing a formal complaint. HUD will then conduct an investigation.

For more ways to file a complaint, visit the HUD website.

Sometimes the U.S. Department of Justice or even the Federal Trade Commission may get involved if the discrimination is found to be criminal. You can also get your state and local housing authority involved.

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