Understanding Fair Housing laws is an important part of buying, selling, and renting. We know that buying or selling a house can be one of the most exciting times of your life, and we want to do all we can to make sure your experience is rewarding.
At Steinborn and Associates, we are committed to making sure that each of our clients is treated with respect and fairness by following the guidelines set up in the Fair Housing Act.
What is the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act was first created in 1968 as an expansion of the Civil Rights Act in an effort to combat segregated neighborhoods. The law made it illegal to refuse to rent or sell a house to someone based solely on their race, sex, or religion. It also worked to keep landlords from creating intimidating rules that made it harder for certain people to rent or buy from them.
While the first fair housing laws were focused on decreasing discrimination due to race, today’s laws have expanded upon that and aim to reduce discrimination based on socioeconomic status, disability, age, and familial status also.
Why is it important?
Some Fair Housing violations are obvious and intentional while some occur by accident. A REALTOR® or landlord might have good intentions when describing a particular property as “perfect for empty nesters” or “close to the Synagogue,” but it’s still a violation.
Take a look at these Fair Housing scenarios:
- A seller tells her Associate Broker that she doesn’t want to sell her house to students or couples with children because the neighbors don’t like noise.
- When looking at a particular house, the buyer asks his Associate Broker about the racial and religious makeup of the neighborhood.
- Associate Broker Sally only shows her client, Carol, houses in neighborhoods that Sally thinks are “safe enough” for a single woman without being asked to do so.
While these situations might not seem very important to some, each is violating the Fair Housing Act in some way.
When you describe the type of people who might live in a property rather than the property itself, you quickly drift into dangerous territory. It’s best to stick to elaborating on the facts about and amenities of the property.
What does it mean for REALTORS®?
As a REALTOR®, it’s our job to make sure that every person who uses our services has a fair and equal opportunity to purchase a home and does not experience intimidation or manipulation.
What does it mean for homebuyers?
The Fair Housing Act prohibits your REALTOR® from disclosing certain kinds of demographic information about an area. For example, if you want to know the socioeconomic makeup of a school district, it’s up to you to do the research.
If you suspect that a REALTOR® or landlord might be discriminating against you, speak up. Report the incident to your Real Estate Brokerage or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Ready to buy or sell?
Our team of industry experts is ready to help you buy or sell your house with ease. Contact us today to take the next step in your home owning journey.