April is recognized as Fair Housing Month in the United States to commemorate the passing of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This landmark civil rights law prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. In the past, discrimination examples such as minority neighborhoods being located far from quality schools, public transportation, and jobs were damaging. The Act was passed after the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fair Housing Guidelines for Real Estate Agents
Fair housing guidelines for real estate agents aim to promote equal treatment of all individuals in the housing market regardless of their race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status. As an agent, it is important to familiarize yourself with these guidelines and avoid any discriminatory practices such as steering or refusing to show certain properties based on the client’s personal characteristics. Additionally, agents should provide equal access to housing opportunities and avoid any discriminatory language or behavior during the sales or rental process. This includes knowing about protected classes, fair housing laws, and how to create inclusive marketing and advertising practices. It is just as important for both buyers and sellers to understand the laws and regulations that protect against discrimination in housing.
Emotional Support Animals
Under the Fair Housing Act, individuals with disabilities are allowed to have an emotional support animal (ESA) as a reasonable accommodation. This means that landlords cannot discriminate against individuals with ESAs and must allow them in their housing, even if there is a no-pets policy. To obtain permission to live with an emotional support animal in a “no pets allowed” community, a homebuyer or renter must make a request to the housing provider, with reliable documentation of the disability and need for the assistance animal, usually in the form of a letter from a medical doctor or therapist. The housing provider may not ask for access to medical records or unreasonably delay the request.
Further general guidance can be obtained through HUD.
Raising awareness about the importance of fair housing practices and the benefits they bring. Some of these benefits include promoting diversity and inclusivity, reducing discrimination, and creating more opportunities for individuals and families to access safe and affordable housing. Additionally, fair housing practices can help to strengthen communities and improve the overall quality of life.