The Fair Housing Act (initiated under the Civil Rights Act of 1968) protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities. Additional protections apply to federally-assisted housing. The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In very limited circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent, and housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.
Housing discrimination is illegal in nearly all housing, including private housing, public housing, and housing that receives federal funding.
The City of Brookfield administers and upholds its responsibility to advance fair housing within its jurisdiction. More information and resources can be found in the Fair Housing document prepared by the Department of Community Development at the following link: Fair Housing in Brookfield
Protections Under Fair Housing
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. In the sale and rental of housing, it is illegal to discriminate based on these protected classes in any of the following actions:
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Otherwise make housing unavailable
- Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Provide a person different housing services or facilities
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
- Make, print, or publish any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination
- Impose different sales prices or rental charges for the sale or rental of a dwelling
- use different qualification criteria or applications, or sale or rental standards or procedures, such as income standards, application requirements, application fees, credit analyses, sale or rental approval procedures, or other requirements
- Evict a tenant or a tenant's guest
- Harass a person
- Fail or delay performance of maintenance or repairs
- Limit privileges, services, or facilities of a dwelling
- Discourage the purchase or rental of a dwelling
- Assign a person to a particular building or neighborhood or section of a building or neighborhood
- For profit, persuade, or try to persuade, homeowners to sell their homes by suggesting that people of a particular protected characteristic are about to move into the neighborhood (blockbusting)
- Refuse to provide or discriminate in the terms of conditions of homeowners insurance of the owner and/or occupants of a dwelling
- Deny access to or membership in any multiple listing service or real estate broker's organization
In mortgage lending, it is illegal to discriminate based on these protected classes in any of the following actions:
- Refuse to make a mortgage loan or provide other financial assistance for a dwelling
- 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 a dwelling
- Condition the availability of a loan on a person's response to harassment
- Refuse to purchase a loan
The Fair Housing Act also makes it illegal to harass persons of these protected classes. Among other things, this forbids sexual harassment.
Other prohibitions of the Fair Housing Act include:
- Threatening, coercing, intimidating, or interfering with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise the right
- Retaliation against a person who has filed a fair housing complaint or assisted in a fair housing investigation
Discriminatory housing advertisements are also illegal under the Fair Housing Act and other federal civil rights laws. Making, printing, and publishing of advertisements that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination based on a protected class is prohibited. The prohibition applies to publishers, such as newspapers and directories, as well as to persons and entities who place real estate advertisements in newspapers and on websites. It also applies where the advertisement itself violates the Act, even if the property being advertised may be exempt from the provisions of the Act. Other federal civil rights laws may also prohibit discriminatory advertising practices. Certain types of affirmative fair housing marketing are required by federal law.
Additional protections exist for persons with disabilities. Housing providers must make reasonable accommodations and allow reasonable modifications that may be necessary to allow persons with disabilities to enjoy their housing. Certain multifamily housing must be accessible to persons with disabilities.
For more information, visit the fair housing overview website provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Fair Housing Overview