Under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended, it is illegal to discriminate because of race, color, religion, sex, disability (physical or mental), familial status, or national origin.
Techniques to prevent a fair housing claim:
- Provide equal service to all.
- Don’t assume you know the buyer’s preferences.
- Attend fair housing education programs to keep abreast of fair housing laws and current fair housing issues.
- Never work with a discriminatory seller.
- Display evidence of the commitment to fair housing laws.
Below are two examples of real agents violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and creating the potential for a lawsuit and claim.
Example 1: A Fair Housing Act tester who investigates discrimination in the housing market responded to a real estate agent’s advertisement for the leasing of a condominium. The advertisement stated, “no arrest record”, which is a violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended, because it has a disparate impact on African American men since they are more likely to be arrested – but not convicted – than white men & women and African American women. The tester met with the agent at the property when the agent confirmed that the owner did not want to lease it to anyone with an arrest record.
Example 2: A Leasing Agent was responsible for the solicitation, evaluation and securing of tenants in a multi-unit residential apartment building in a large, multi-cultural city. The family that owned the building lived in the community for generations, with many of its members actively involved in various business and religious organizations. Once the agreement with the Owners was signed, the Agent began marketing the property and accepting applications from prospective tenants. Even though certain applicants had excellent credit ratings and employment histories, the owners directed the Agent to reject those with Asian surnames by informing them that all units had been rented. When the Agent reluctantly carried out those instructions, it was a clear violation of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended.
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