How should you handle discrimination in real estate?

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Discriminatory violations can occur at any stage in the real estate process. From selling to buying, lending to renting, all parts of the transaction are susceptible to unfair practices. Luckily, there are several agencies and professionals dedicated to ensuring that all people have equal access to affordable housing.

History

Anti-discrimination protection has been a central part of equal housing since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This bill effectively prohibited discrimination in real estate transactions due to religious affiliation, sex, gender, nationality, disability or family status. This law applies to sellers, buyers, lenders and real estate agents. In short, it protects and monitors all parties involved with every real estate transaction.

Seth Hopkins describes,

Today it seems hard to imagine that someone selling a house would give up the highest offer and take less money simply to keep someone of a different race or religion from living in his old neighborhood. But that’s exactly what happened for much of the 20th Century.”

Monitoring

There are several ways in which anti-discrimination is monitored through real estate. First, included with every mortgage application is a questionnaire which is part of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.

Keaton Hutto notes,

This form is required so that the government can maintain records showing if any company is leaning too heavily on one specific race/sex or if they are showing an unfair bias towards a certain group.”

At other points in the transaction, any party can report possible violations to the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, a branch of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Douglas McIntyre adds,

This office has a legal process which works with state and local agencies to investigate complaints dealing with discriminatory housing practices.”

If a party feels that they are being discriminated against at any point in the transaction, the best way to ensure proper action is taken is to contact a real estate lawyer with experience in the area.

Recent Changes

While the Fair Housing Act specifically mentions race, gender, nationality and familial status, it has never included applicants of varying sexual orientations. Many officials noted that the LGBT was the subject of frequent discrimination in real estate transactions. To combat this problem, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) amended its rules. In February of this year, HUD released a final statement on this rule.

The HUD report states,

“Through this final rule, HUD implements policy to ensure that its core programs are open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.”

This most recent rule is just another step in the fight to battle discrimination in real estate. Fair housing is not a static issue and will continue to develop as new groups are targeted and new forms of discrimination evolve. But, with careful monitoring and active justice, equal housing should remain open for all who seek it.