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Protecting Your Rights: What You Need to Know about Fair Housing Laws SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Protecting Your Rights: What You Need to Know about Fair Housing Laws SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Protecting Your Rights: What You Need to Know about Fair Housing Laws SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center

2 The South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center is dedicated to advocacy for low- income people in South Carolina to effect systemic change by acting in and through the courts, legislature, administrative agencies, community and the media, and helping others do the same through education, training and co-counseling. To find out more about SCALJC, go to on the Internet.

3 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Mission The goal of this presentation is to teach you general information about your rights under Fair Housing laws. The goal of this presentation is to teach you general information about your rights under Fair Housing laws. Because of time constraints, only the major points of the laws will be addressed. Because of time constraints, only the major points of the laws will be addressed. At the end of this presentation, you should have a better understanding about the laws that protect you from housing discrimination and what to do if you think your rights have been violated. At the end of this presentation, you should have a better understanding about the laws that protect you from housing discrimination and what to do if you think your rights have been violated.

4 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Disclaimer This overview of Fair Housing law is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to address a specific legal problem. If you have specific questions about a housing problem, you should contact a lawyer of your choice to get help.

5 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What Is the Fair Housing Act? The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) was made a law by Congress on April 11, The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) was made a law by Congress on April 11, It was part of the Civil Rights Act of It was part of the Civil Rights Act of After the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s assassination on April 4, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson urged Congress to pass the law. In the years before Kings death, the law had been considered but did not have enough support to pass. After the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s assassination on April 4, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson urged Congress to pass the law. In the years before Kings death, the law had been considered but did not have enough support to pass.

6 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What Is the Fair Housing Act? The 1968 Fair Housing Act made it illegal to discriminate against people in most types of housing transactions because of their race, color, religion, or national origin. The 1968 Fair Housing Act made it illegal to discriminate against people in most types of housing transactions because of their race, color, religion, or national origin. In 1974, gender was added to the list. In 1974, gender was added to the list. In 1988, disability and familial status were added to the list (in the Fair Housing Amendments Act) In 1988, disability and familial status were added to the list (in the Fair Housing Amendments Act)

7 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What groups of people does the Fair Housing Act protect now? The FHA now protects people from being discriminated against in housing because of their The FHA now protects people from being discriminated against in housing because of their Race Race Color Color Religion Religion Gender Gender National Origin National Origin Disability Disability Familial status Familial status

8 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What is National Origin? National origin means where someone was born, or where their parents, grandparents, etc. were born. National origin means where someone was born, or where their parents, grandparents, etc. were born. It may be hard to tell where a person was born, but there may be signs of his or her national origin, like an accent, that can lead to discrimination. The FHA makes it illegal to discriminate in housing for that reason. It may be hard to tell where a person was born, but there may be signs of his or her national origin, like an accent, that can lead to discrimination. The FHA makes it illegal to discriminate in housing for that reason.

9 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What groups of people does the Fair Housing Act protect now? The FHA now protects people from being discriminated against in housing because of their The FHA now protects people from being discriminated against in housing because of their Race Race Color Color Religion Religion Gender Gender National Origin National Origin Disability Disability Familial status Familial status

10 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What is Familial Status? In general, familial status means whether or not there is a child under 18 in the household. In general, familial status means whether or not there is a child under 18 in the household. It can also mean whether someone is pregnant, or getting legal custody or already has legal custody of one or more children under 18. It can also mean whether someone is pregnant, or getting legal custody or already has legal custody of one or more children under 18. Example: It would be illegal under the FHA to refuse to rent to someone just because he has legal custody of his grandchild who is 16. Example: It would be illegal under the FHA to refuse to rent to someone just because he has legal custody of his grandchild who is 16.

11 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What is Familial Status? The FHA makes it illegal for most housing providers to refuse to rent or sell housing to people because of their familial status. The FHA makes it illegal for most housing providers to refuse to rent or sell housing to people because of their familial status. Exception: Some housing is set aside by the government as Housing for Older Persons or Senior Housing. Special rules have to be met for housing to use this exception to the FHA.

12 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What groups of people does the Fair Housing Act protect now? The FHA now protects people from being discriminated against in housing because of their The FHA now protects people from being discriminated against in housing because of their Race Race Color Color Religion Religion Gender Gender National Origin National Origin Disability Disability Familial status Familial status

13 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What counts as a disability under the FHA? Under the FHA, a disability is a physical or mental problem that largely limits one or more of a persons major life activities Under the FHA, a disability is a physical or mental problem that largely limits one or more of a persons major life activities Having a record of such a problem or being regarded as having such a problem is also in the definition Having a record of such a problem or being regarded as having such a problem is also in the definition If a person has a record of having a disability in the past, that past disability cannot be used against them to keep them out of housing If a person has a record of having a disability in the past, that past disability cannot be used against them to keep them out of housing

14 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What counts as a disability under the FHA? Some examples of disabilities under the FHA are having a mental illness, a learning disability, past drug addiction, alcoholism, having a disease like HIV or AIDS, blindness, or having a hearing problem. The current use of illegal drugs is not covered under the FHA.

15 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What counts as a disability under the FHA? Landlords can refuse to rent to people who have been convicted in court of selling or making drugs. Landlords can refuse to rent to people who have been convicted in court of selling or making drugs. Landlords can also refuse to rent to a person who is a direct threat to someones health or safety, or to someone who would substantially damage the landlords property or the property of others. Landlords can also refuse to rent to a person who is a direct threat to someones health or safety, or to someone who would substantially damage the landlords property or the property of others. In order to prove this in court, the landlord has to have recent evidence to back up this claim. In order to prove this in court, the landlord has to have recent evidence to back up this claim.

16 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What types of actions are illegal under the FHA? We have learned that the FHA makes it illegal to discriminate in housing because of someones race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, or familial status. But what does this really mean?

17 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center This means that the FHA makes it illegal to do the following because of someones race, color, religion, national origin gender, disability, or familial status: Refuse to rent or sell housing Refuse to rent or sell housing Refuse to negotiate on housing Refuse to negotiate on housing Deny someone a unit Deny someone a unit Example: Putting all people of one race in one part of a building Example: Putting all people of one race in one part of a building Make different rules for renting or selling housing Make different rules for renting or selling housing Example: Making a man pay a smaller rental deposit than a woman Example: Making a man pay a smaller rental deposit than a woman

18 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center This means that the FHA makes it illegal to do the following because of someones race, color, religion, national origin gender, disability, or familial status: (continued) Give different housing services or facilities Give different housing services or facilities Example : Having pools for one race only Example : Having pools for one race only Claim that housing is not for rent or sale when it actually is Claim that housing is not for rent or sale when it actually is This includes not allowing inspection of the unit This includes not allowing inspection of the unit Convince someone else, for profit, not to sell or rent a unit Convince someone else, for profit, not to sell or rent a unit Deny someone membership in a facility or service that comes with the house Deny someone membership in a facility or service that comes with the house Example: Refusing to list a unit in a multiple listing service Example: Refusing to list a unit in a multiple listing service

19 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center This means that the FHA makes it illegal to do the following because of someones race, color, religion, national origin gender, disability, or familial status: (continued) Refuse to make a mortgage loan Refuse to make a mortgage loan Example: Making loans to one race only Example: Making loans to one race only Refuse to give information on loans Refuse to give information on loans Example: Refusing to give loan information to someone with an accent Example: Refusing to give loan information to someone with an accent Make different rules about a loan Make different rules about a loan Example: Different interest rates or fees for one race over another Example: Different interest rates or fees for one race over another

20 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center This means that the FHA makes it illegal to do the following because of someones race, color, religion, national origin gender, disability, or familial status: (continued) Discriminate in appraising the value of property Discriminate in appraising the value of property Refuse to purchase a loan Refuse to purchase a loan Set different rules for purchasing a loan Set different rules for purchasing a loan

21 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center It is also illegal under the FHA to: Threaten or try to force or scare someone who is protecting his or her rights under the Fair Housing Act Threaten or try to force or scare someone who is protecting his or her rights under the Fair Housing Act Make a statement or place an ad (in writing or by phone) that lists a preference for a renter or buyer of property based on their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, or familial status Make a statement or place an ad (in writing or by phone) that lists a preference for a renter or buyer of property based on their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, or familial status

22 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Examples of Discriminatory Advertisement Ads that use certain words to limit the type of renter/buyer the person is looking for, such as: Using the words No Men or Christians only in an ad to rent an apartment Using the words No Men or Christians only in an ad to rent an apartment Using the words No immigrants or Couples only in an ad to sell a house Using the words No immigrants or Couples only in an ad to sell a house

23 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Examples of Discriminatory Advertisement Ads that would keep certain people or groups of people from renting or buying housing in an area, such as: Using the words Mostly Asian neighborhood or quiet, childless neighborhood in an ad to sell a home Using the words Mostly Asian neighborhood or quiet, childless neighborhood in an ad to sell a home Using the words nearly all Christian families to rent a unit in an apartment building Using the words nearly all Christian families to rent a unit in an apartment building

24 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Does the FHA apply to all types of housing? The FHA covers most types of housing. The FHA covers most types of housing. Under the FHA, housing can be places that are rented or places that are bought. Under the FHA, housing can be places that are rented or places that are bought. This means that apartments, condos, houses, and mobiles homes can all be covered by the FHA. This means that apartments, condos, houses, and mobiles homes can all be covered by the FHA.

25 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What Housing Is NOT Covered by the FHA? There are some types of housing that are not covered by some parts of the FHA: Buildings with no more than four units where the owner lives in one of the units Buildings with no more than four units where the owner lives in one of the units Single-family homes that are sold or rented without a broker or agent Single-family homes that are sold or rented without a broker or agent The owner must have no more than 3 homes, must have not sold a house in the last 24 months, and does not use discriminatory advertising The owner must have no more than 3 homes, must have not sold a house in the last 24 months, and does not use discriminatory advertising Housing run by private clubs where only club members live or by religious organizations in some circumstances (very limited exceptions) Housing run by private clubs where only club members live or by religious organizations in some circumstances (very limited exceptions)

26 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What Housing Is NOT Covered by the FHA? Dont Forget: Even though those types of housing are not covered by the FHA, it is still illegal to threaten others or to use discriminatory advertising to rent or sell housing.

27 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What if I am disabled? Does the FHA give me other rights? Yes. Under the FHA, if you or someone in your household is disabled, your landlord must let you make reasonable modifications to your unit or common areas if you need these to use the housing. Yes. Under the FHA, if you or someone in your household is disabled, your landlord must let you make reasonable modifications to your unit or common areas if you need these to use the housing. The reasonable modifications must be paid for by the disabled person or family. The reasonable modifications must be paid for by the disabled person or family. If it is reasonable, your landlord can make you remove the reasonable modifications when you move. If it is reasonable, your landlord can make you remove the reasonable modifications when you move.

28 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What are reasonable modifications? They are necessary physical changes to the housing or common areas to help a disabled person use the housing. They are necessary physical changes to the housing or common areas to help a disabled person use the housing. Some examples of reasonable modifications are: Some examples of reasonable modifications are: Having a doorway widened to fit a wheelchair Having a doorway widened to fit a wheelchair Having a ramp added to a unit for a wheelchair Having a ramp added to a unit for a wheelchair Having grab bars added to a bath tub Having grab bars added to a bath tub * There are special rules for some newer buildings where these changes must already be made.

29 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What if I am disabled? Does the FHA give me other rights? If you or someone in your household is disabled, you also have the right to have reasonable accommodations made if it will help you to use the housing. If you or someone in your household is disabled, you also have the right to have reasonable accommodations made if it will help you to use the housing. The cost of the reasonable accommodation is not paid for by the disabled person. The cost of the reasonable accommodation is not paid for by the disabled person. A reasonable accommodation must be necessary to help the disabled person using the housing. A reasonable accommodation must be necessary to help the disabled person using the housing.

30 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What are reasonable accommodations? Reasonable accommodations are necessary changes to a landlords rules or policies to help a disabled person use the housing. Reasonable accommodations are necessary changes to a landlords rules or policies to help a disabled person use the housing. Some examples of reasonable accommodations are: Some examples of reasonable accommodations are: Allow a seeing eye dog in a building where pets are not allowed Allow a seeing eye dog in a building where pets are not allowed Making disabled parking available in front of a unit for a disabled person Making disabled parking available in front of a unit for a disabled person

31 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Does South Carolina have a Fair Housing Law? Yes. South Carolinas Fair Housing Law (found at SC Code Ann. § et. seq. ) is very similar to the federal law. Yes. South Carolinas Fair Housing Law (found at SC Code Ann. § et. seq. ) is very similar to the federal law. The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission is the agency that oversees the SC Fair Housing Law (for non- federally funded properties) The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission is the agency that oversees the SC Fair Housing Law (for non- federally funded properties)

32 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center What can I do if I think my Fair Housing rights have been violated? There are two main ways to protect your rights if you think you have been discriminated against in housing. You can take advantage of both of these options to better protect your rights. There are two main ways to protect your rights if you think you have been discriminated against in housing. You can take advantage of both of these options to better protect your rights. File a complaint File a complaint File a lawsuit File a lawsuit

33 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Complaint If you think you have been discriminated against in housing in violation of the federal FHA (i.e., regarding federally-funded property), you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) If you think you have been discriminated against in housing in violation of the federal FHA (i.e., regarding federally-funded property), you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HUD has a complaint form that you fill out, or you can write your own letter to HUD. HUD has a complaint form that you fill out, or you can write your own letter to HUD.

34 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Complaint If you write your own letter to HUD, be sure to list If you write your own letter to HUD, be sure to list Your name and address Your name and address The name and address of the person you are complaining about The name and address of the person you are complaining about The address of the housing that you were denied or removed from The address of the housing that you were denied or removed from An explanation of what happened (including how you feel you were discriminated against) An explanation of what happened (including how you feel you were discriminated against) The date(s) that the action occurred The date(s) that the action occurred

35 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Complaint If you live in South Carolina, the HUD office nearest you where you can send your complaint is: If you live in South Carolina, the HUD office nearest you where you can send your complaint is: Atlanta Regional Office of FHEO U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Five Points Plaza 40 Marietta Street, 16th floor Atlanta, Georgia You can also call HUD with your complaint at You can also call HUD with your complaint at or

36 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Complaint Your complaint to HUD must be made within one year from the date that the discriminatory action happened Your complaint to HUD must be made within one year from the date that the discriminatory action happened It is important that you keep records of any negative action taken against you, including the dates It is important that you keep records of any negative action taken against you, including the dates It is important that you file your complaint on time or else you may lose some protections It is important that you file your complaint on time or else you may lose some protections

37 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Complaint Because SC has its own state fair housing law, there is also a state agency that takes complaints on housing discrimination for properties that are not federally-funded Because SC has its own state fair housing law, there is also a state agency that takes complaints on housing discrimination for properties that are not federally-funded That agency is the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission That agency is the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission You must file your complaint with the SC Human Affairs Commission within 180 days from the date that you were discriminated against. You must file your complaint with the SC Human Affairs Commission within 180 days from the date that you were discriminated against.

38 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Complaint The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission can be reached at: The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission can be reached at: South Carolina Human Affairs Commission Fair Housing Unit 2611 Forest Drive, Suite 200 P.O. Box 4490 Columbia, SC Toll-free number:

39 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Complaint After your complaint is filed, it will be investigated Remember: It is your right to file a complaint if you think you have been discriminated against in housing. In some cases, filing a complaint may help you delay in a discriminatory eviction or work out an agreement with the person who violated your rights.

40 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Lawsuit You can also file a lawsuit against someone who has discriminated against you in housing. Depending upon whether the housing at issue is federally-funded or funded by a state or local agency, a Fair Housing Case might be filed in federal court (FHA) or state court (South Carolina Fair Housing law)

41 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Lawsuit Federal FHA Federal FHA The federal FHA gives you two years to file a lawsuit against the person who discriminated against you. The two years starts from the date that the discriminatory action happened. The federal FHA gives you two years to file a lawsuit against the person who discriminated against you. The two years starts from the date that the discriminatory action happened. South Carolina Fair Housing Law South Carolina Fair Housing Law The state FHA gives you one year to file a lawsuit against the person who discriminated against you. The year starts from the date that the discriminatory action happened. The state FHA gives you one year to file a lawsuit against the person who discriminated against you. The year starts from the date that the discriminatory action happened.

42 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Filing a Lawsuit In some cases, making an agreement during the complaint process may limit your ability to file a lawsuit. In other cases, the complaint process may be ended once you file a lawsuit. If you have a fair housing problem and think you may want to file a complaint or file a lawsuit on it, you should contact a lawyer as soon as you can to determine what course of action is best for your case.

43 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Other Federal Laws Available to Prevent Housing Discrimination The Civil Rights Act of 1866 The Civil Rights Act of 1866 Executive Orders / Executive Orders / Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Equal Credit Opportunity Act Equal Credit Opportunity Act

44 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center The Civil Rights Act of 1866 This was the first civil rights legislation passed by Congress This was the first civil rights legislation passed by Congress It was an attempt to enforce the 13 th amendment, which outlawed slavery It was an attempt to enforce the 13 th amendment, which outlawed slavery

45 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center The Civil Rights Act of 1866 Prohibits all racial discrimination, private and public, in the sale or rental of property Prohibits all racial discrimination, private and public, in the sale or rental of property Applies to state and federal entities, as well as private individuals Applies to state and federal entities, as well as private individuals Could apply in situations where the Fair Housing Act does not because provides no exemptions Could apply in situations where the Fair Housing Act does not because provides no exemptions

46 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Executive Order – Equal Opportunity in Housing Signed by President Kennedy on November 21, 1962 Signed by President Kennedy on November 21, 1962 Prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin relating to property where the federal government is involved Prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin relating to property where the federal government is involved Involvement includes being owned, operated, or financed in whole or part by the federal government Involvement includes being owned, operated, or financed in whole or part by the federal government

47 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Executive Order – Equal Opportunity in Housing Has been amended to cover gender-based discrimination, discrimination against families with children, and discrimination against people with disabilities Has been amended to cover gender-based discrimination, discrimination against families with children, and discrimination against people with disabilities President Clinton signed Executive Order 12892, which strengthens the federal governments commitment to protecting against housing discrimination President Clinton signed Executive Order 12892, which strengthens the federal governments commitment to protecting against housing discrimination

48 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Outlaws discrimination based on race, color, and national origin in any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance Outlaws discrimination based on race, color, and national origin in any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance Applies primarily to public housing Applies primarily to public housing

49 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Equal Credit Opportunity Act Prohibits creditors, like banks, from discriminating against applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or source of income Prohibits creditors, like banks, from discriminating against applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or source of income Applies to all aspects of a credit transaction Applies to all aspects of a credit transaction

50 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Additional Federal Laws Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 Prohibits discrimination in federally-assisted community development activities Prohibits discrimination in federally-assisted community development activities

51 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center Additional Federal Laws Section 504 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act Give protections against discrimination for persons who are disabled Give protections against discrimination for persons who are disabled Section 504 covers public and federally subsidized housing Section 504 covers public and federally subsidized housing Title II of the ADA covers housing subsidized by state or local agencies Title II of the ADA covers housing subsidized by state or local agencies

52 SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center If You Need Legal Help: South Carolina Legal Services Call LATIS at SC Bars Lawyer Referral Service Call


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