Federal Fair Housing Act
What Fair Housing Laws Apply in Colorado?
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, with the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, is called the Fair Housing Act. The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency that administers and enforces the Act. Basic facts about the Fair Housing Act are explained in the above link to the HUD website.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap and familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18). The Act deals with the sale, rental or financing of housing, as well as any advertisements or statements with respect to housing. Housing discrimination complaints can be filed on line at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/topics/housing_discrimination.
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What Housing Is Covered?
The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.
What Is Prohibited?
In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Make housing unavailable
- Deny a dwelling
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Provide different housing services or facilities
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
- For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
- Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.
In Mortgage Lending: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability):
- Refuse to make a mortgage loan
- Refuse to provide information regarding loans
- Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
- Discriminate in appraising property
- Refuse to purchase a loan or
- Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.
In Addition: It is illegal for anyone to:
- Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
- Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
Additional Protection if You Have a Disability
If you or someone associated with you:
- Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- Have a record of such a disability or
- Are regarded as having such a disability
your landlord may not:
- Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
- Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.
Example: A building with a no pets policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.
Example: An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.
However, housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.
Requirements for New Buildings
In buildings that are ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, and have an elevator and four or more units:
- Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
- Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
All units must have:
- An accessible route into and through the unit
- Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls
- Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars and
- Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.
If a building with four or more units has no elevator and will be ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground floor units.
These requirements for new buildings do not replace any more stringent standards in State or local law.
Housing Opportunities for Families
Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with:
- A parent
- A person who has legal custody of the child or children or
- The designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian's written permission.
Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.
Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:
- The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program or
- It is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older or
- It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.
A transition period permits residents on or before September 13, 1988, to continue living in the housing, regardless of their age, without interfering with the exemption.
If you believe that you are the victim of housing discrimination, you may contact one of the agencies listed below to file a complaint. These agencies will investigate your complaint and take the appropriate action. A complaint must be filed with the appropriate agency within one year of the alleged act of discrimination.
U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - HUD is the federal agency responsible for administering the Fair Housing Act. Within HUD, the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is the office that receives complaints. To file a complaint, contact the Denver HUD Fair Housing office at 1-800-877-7353 or you may call HUD's Discrimination Hotline at 1-800-669-9777. You can also download the discrimination complaint form and instructions by accessing HUD's website www.hud.gov. HUD will investigate the complaint at no charge to you. If you are hearing or speech impaired, you can reach the HUD Fair Housing office through the TTY service 1-800-927-9275.
Colorado Civil Rights Division - You may also file a discrimination complaint with the State of Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Civil Rights at 1-800-262-4845 (English/Spanish), hearing impaired through dialing 711. You may also get information about the Colorado Civil Rights Division at its web site www.dora.state.co.us/civil-rights. Under a Memorandum of Understanding between the Colorado Civil Rights Division and HUD, the Division accepts and investigates a complaint jointly filed under both Colorado and federal law.
More information on the Fair Housing Act and available resources can be found on the HUD web site www.hud.gov under Fair Housing.
Equal Housing Opportunity