By way of refresher, the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing related transactions because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability or familial status. Many state and local laws also prohibit housing discrimination based on several additional protected classes. The Fair Housing Act applies to a wide variety of housing transactions, including rentals, sales, home mortgages, appraisals and homeowners insurance. Landlords, real estate agents, lenders, insurance companies and condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations must not discriminate because of one’s membership in a protected class.
Landlords and other housing providers may not discriminate against persons with disabilities. Pet restrictions cannot be used to deny or limit housing to persons with disabilities who require the use of an assistance animal. This brochure discusses how reasonable accommodations may be required to enable persons with disabilities that require the use of an assistance animal to use and enjoy a dwelling.
SIGNS OF POSSIBLE DISCRIMINATION
■ Families with children are limited to certain buildings or to the first floor.
■ Occupancy is limited to one person per bedroom.
■ The housing provider refuses to sell, rent or show available housing after learning that you have children.
■ The terms and conditions of a lease or agreement are different for families, such as lease terms that strictly limit children’s activities on the property or charge a higher security deposit.
■ Statements are made that the dwelling would not be suitable for your family, that your children won’tbe safe, or that the neighbors do not want you there.
■ The availability changes between a phone contact and an in-person visit.
■ Advertisements express a preference for singles or couples.
■ Advertisements expressed a preference for singles or couples but the community does not qualify as housing for older persons.
■ Families with children or persons with disabilities were limited or steered to certain buildings or to the first floor.
■ The housing provider: Failed or delayed to make repairs or maintain the property. Limited the use of services or facilities or privileges. Refused to make a reasonable accommodation or allow a reason modification for a person with a disability
The article in Newsday had quite an impact on Nassau County lawmakers who have now introduced legislation that they hope will create a database of racially restrictive covenants within property deeds on Nassau County. Nassau County Legislators Carrié Solages of Valley Stream and Arnie Drucker of Plainview introduced legislation that aims to uncover legal property documents within racially discriminatory covenants that were historically intended to prevent Black Americans, Jews and Asian Americans from buying and renting property in certain neighborhoods. The database would help educate the public and government on how structural racism shaped law, public policy, socioeconomic opportunities and education.
The Bottom Line- As we move through these times of change, home buyers, realtors, banks, attorneys and sellers should be aware of the internal barriers housing, and move the needle toward inclusion, equality, and fairness.