Housing Discrimination Attorneys Standing Up for Tenant’s Rights for Over 25 Years
A person has the right to live in a clean and safe environment. His race, religion, national origin, or other characteristics should not prevent him from obtaining a place to live.
Unfortunately, many people face housing discrimination when trying to rent an apartment or buy a home. Landlords may deny you the right to rent an apartment or home because they hold prejudices against race, religion, gender, national origin, people with disabilities, or people with children.
As the victim of a landlord’s discrimination in housing, you deserve an attorney who wants to fight back. You deserve an attorney whose help will assist you in finding a home. You deserve a fierce advocate to help you fight against these injustices.
What Is Discrimination in Housing?
Housing discrimination occurs when a person’s race, religion, disability, family status, sex, or national origin prevents them from obtaining a lease, rental property, or housing financing. You may find yourself the victim of wrongful eviction, retaliation, or discriminatory denial of a new home.
Federal and state laws protect you from housing discrimination. However, many landlords and lending institutions attempt to ignore the laws through creative measures.
They may claim another tenant had better credit or a higher paying income, making them a more desirable tenant. This reason may be valid in many cases. However, there are many cases where these reasons are made up to suit the landlord’s discriminatory agenda.
You may feel you are the victim of discrimination in housing. As a result, you should consult with a housing discrimination attorney. Your attorney can review the evidence. He can let you know your rights under the Fair Housing Act and other tenant’s rights laws.
Who is Protected from Housing Discrimination?
Federal housing laws prohibit discrimination in housing based on protected classes. A protected class is a group of people with similar characteristics who are protected from discrimination under the law.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of:
- National Origin
- Familial Status
Is Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Banned Under Sex Discrimination in Housing?
In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that sex discrimination in employment included sexual orientation and gender identity. Therefore, employers can no longer discriminate against LGBTQ employees simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
As of February 2021, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has determined that the Bostock v. Clayton County Supreme Court decision would extend to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act). Therefore, the federal law will prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Many states also include sexual orientation and gender identity as part of their protected classes in housing. It is best to speak with a qualified discrimination attorney. This attorney can help you determine if your state offers protections against LGBTQ discrimination in housing.
Can My Landlord Evict Me Because of My Race, Religion, or Other Protected Class Status?
A landlord reserves the right to evict a tenant for legal reasons. These reasons may include the following:
- Failure to Pay Rent
- Participating in Criminal Activity
- Destroying Property
- Repeated Violations of Noise Ordinances
- Violating Occupancy Ordinances
A landlord may not evict a tenant based on discrimination. For instance, a landlord may not evict you only because you are a protected class member.
Furthermore, he cannot evict you for a legal reason if he does not evict others for the same legal reasons. If he only evicts members of protected classes due to legal reasons, he may be violating housing discrimination laws.
An experienced discrimination lawyer from the Derek Smith Law Group can help you determine if your eviction was based on discrimination. They will review the details of your case and properly advise you on your next steps.
Can My Landlord Enter My Apartment Without My Permission?
When you rent an apartment, you have a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, a landlord has a right to enter your premises when needed.
In the event of an emergency, your landlord does not need to provide notice of entering your property. However, under normal circumstances, your landlord must provide you with at least 24 hours’ notice before entering your rental home.
Once you receive the notice, you can approve your landlord to come in. You may choose to be home when they enter. However, you can approve they enter even if you are not home.
If you feel your landlord entered your rental unit illegally or for discriminatory reasons only, you should reach out to a qualified discrimination lawyer. The housing discrimination lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group can review the circumstances of your claim. They can help you determine if your landlord violated your tenant’s rights.
Can My Landlord Video Tape Me Inside My Apartment?
Taking video or photos of you inside your rental home is a violation of privacy. You have the right to live within your dwelling without any video or photography of your daily habits.
Your landlord has a right to set up video surveillance in the common areas of a rental building. For instance, an apartment building with a courtyard can have video surveillance in the courtyard.
In the same vein, that equipment cannot point into your rental unit under any circumstances. The video or photography equipment must only capture footage of common areas.
How Does the Fair Housing Act Protect Tenants from Discrimination?
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) is also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act. Title VIII was passed in 1968.
The FHA prohibits any form of discrimination in housing. Discrimination in housing affects the following:
- Rental homes
- Housing financing, such as mortgage lending
Landlords, property managers, and mortgage lenders cannot deny you home or mortgage based on any of the seven protected classes mentioned above.
What Other Federal Laws Protect Housing Rights?
Several federal laws specifically prohibit discrimination based on age, race, disability, color, national origin, or religion if the entity receives federal funding. These laws include the following:
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any discrimination based on race, religion, color, and national origin for any facility (including housing) receiving federal funding.
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits any discrimination against disabled people in any facility receiving government funding.
- Section 109 of Title I of the Housing and Community specifically prohibits discrimination in programs and activities receiving financial assistance from HUD’s Community Development and Block Grant Program.
- Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is enforced when relating to state and local public housing, housing assistance and housing referrals.
- The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 requires that buildings and facilities be accessible and usable for disabled people. The law applies to any building modified on or after September 1969.
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits all forms of age discrimination in housing.
Can State Laws Provide Other Protections Against Housing Discrimination?
State laws can prohibit housing discrimination on the state level. Many state laws offer additional protections to tenants and potential homeowners.
Depending on your state, tenant’s rights may include prohibiting discrimination against the following for all rental homes, leases, and mortgages, regardless of whether they receive federal funding:
- Marriage Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
A dedicated housing discrimination attorney can help you determine your housing rights in your state. The Derek Smith Law Group can help you determine the laws protecting your rights in federal court and throughout New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Jersey.
Can the Fair Housing Act Prohibit Discrimination Against Potential Homeowners?
The Fair Housing Act also protects funding for potential homeowners. Mortgage lenders cannot deny you a loan based on the seven protected classes mentioned above.
The FHA insists mortgage lenders have legal reasons to deny a mortgage loan. These reasons include poor credit, employment concerns, or insufficient income, to name a few. However, they cannot deny people based on legal reasons and provide others with the same issues and concerns with loans because they are not members of protected classes.
Any potential homeowner denied a loan based on their membership in a protected class might have a case for discrimination in housing. The housing discrimination lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group can help you get justice as a potential homeowner.
Can a Landlord Refuse to Rent to Qualified Section 8 Tenants?
Many people receive funding vouchers under federal and state section 8 housing laws and other government funding options. Section 8 housing vouchers fall under HUD housing regulations. Under HUD housing funding, Section 8 vouchers will pay 70% of the rental fees, while tenants must pay the other 30%.
Federal law does not require a landlord to provide you housing if you hold a section 8 voucher. Under federal law, the choice rests in the landlord’s hands.
However, many states require landlords to rent to a certain number of section 8 tenants. Others insist landlords consider applicants with section 8 funding in the same manner they would consider other applicants.
Many landlords may attempt to deny renting to section 8 applicants based more on their race, color, national origin, or other protected categories. In these cases, the landlords may be violating housing discrimination laws.
Are There Exceptions to Discrimination in Housing?
Landlords may deny applicants the right to rent based on protected class status under very specific circumstances. The exceptions to housing discrimination laws include the following:
- Single Family Homes. The home must be sold or rented by the owner. The owner cannot use a real estate agent or broker to sell or rent the home.
The owner cannot own more than three homes at one time. Furthermore, the advertising for the home cannot discriminate.
2. Rooms or Units in Building with No More than Four Units. The owner must live in one of the units.
3. Rooms Owned and Used by Religious Organizations. The religious organization maintains the right to rent to members of the religious community only. However, membership in the religious community cannot exclude people based on race, color, or national origin.
4. Rooms Owned and Used by a Member Organization. The building cannot have a commercial purpose. Landlords may rent units in the residential building to members of the organization only. However, membership in the organization cannot discriminate against race, color, or national origin.
Another exemption to the age discrimination and familial discrimination laws comes under senior living communities, such as 55 and older communities. These communities exist legally under the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA). To qualify under the HOPA exemption, the community must meet one of the following criteria:
- All occupants must be age 62 or older, or
- At least 80% of the occupants must be age 55 and older. The property must make conscious and obvious efforts to only rent to adults over age 55. For instance, the bylaws do not allow any tenants under age 18, even when living with a person over 55.
What Are the Legal Reasons Landlords Can Refuse to Rent to Someone?
A landlord has the right to reject a tenant from renting a property legally. These reasons include:
- Poor Credit
- Insufficient Income
- Criminal History
- Recent Bankruptcy
- Poor Rental History
However, a landlord cannot combine the legal reasons to deny a tenant’s application with discrimination. For instance, A landlord cannot allow a man with bad credit to rent a unit and deny the same opportunity to a woman with bad credit.
If you think a landlord used a legal purpose to mask discrimination, consult a housing discrimination attorney. The dedicated housing discrimination lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group can help you prove a landlord discriminated against you while claiming legal reasons.
How Would I Recognize Housing Discrimination?
Housing discrimination can take many forms. Some examples may include:
- A rental community approves your application and offers a rental unit to you and your partner. When you arrive to pick up the keys, the landlord tells you the rent will be $200 more per month than agreed. He sees you are an interracial couple and clearly disapproves.
- An apartment owner says they only rent to good Christian families. You are Jewish. He refuses to rent to you.
- You have lived in an apartment building for three years. You have always paid your rent on time and kept the place nice.
You tell your landlord you are pregnant. Once the baby is born, he evicts you. You have three months before your lease ends.
- A landlord denies the application of every Hispanic person that applies for a unit. You are Hispanic.
You have a great job and make good money. You have perfect credit. The landlord denies you a unit.
- A mortgage company denies your mortgage application. You feel it is because you are a female, Therefore, your brother files the same application but uses his name and your information. The mortgage company approves the application.
- You apply for an apartment. The company tells you there are units available. You go to view the apartments wearing your yarmulke.
The same leasing agent tells you that there are no units available. You spoke to him 30 minutes before arrival to confirm there were available units.
How Should I File a Complaint Against My Landlord for Discrimination?
You have two options when filing a complaint about housing discrimination. First, you can choose to file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
HUD will conduct an investigation of your complaint. They can offer an administrative hearing. However, you can refuse any agreement and take the case to court.
You also have the right to file your complaint in federal court. You can avoid HUD completely. When you file with the courts, you can skip the investigation and other suggestions made by HUD officers. Instead, the case proceeds as any other trial.
You may also choose to file your claim under the guidelines of state laws. State laws may offer the ability to file your claim directly with the state court or to go through the appropriate state agency.
Consult with a talented discrimination lawyer to determine the best options for filing your lawsuit against housing discrimination.
When Should I File a Complaint Against My Landlord for Discrimination?
The statute of limitations to file your housing discrimination claim with HUD is one year from the date of the last incident of discrimination. The time limit to file an FHA claim in federal court is two years.
Whether you choose to file your case with HUD or in federal court, you should file it as soon as possible. Life happens. You do not want to miss your deadline. If you miss the statute of limitations, you lose your chance for justice.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to File a Complaint about Housing Discrimination?
Housing discrimination can be a complex legal issue. Sorting through the details of your claim to determine your rights under the law can cause confusion. Furthermore, each filing holds specific regulations and time limits.
Working with a qualified housing discrimination lawyer increases your chances of having your day in court. Your experienced lawyer can help you draft your complaint to answer as many legal questions as possible.
He can help ensure you meet all deadlines, so your case is heard and proceeds as expected. He can even help you anticipate the other side’s responses to prepare you for the litigation process.
Housing discrimination attorneys want to help you get a settlement as quickly as possible. They will help lead you towards a settlement whenever possible, avoiding long court delays and an even longer trial.
The dedicated and experienced housing discrimination lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group can help your case towards the best outcome possible. They will advocate for you against illegal housing practices and discrimination. The goal is to get justice and the compensation you deserve.
What Remedies Can I Request for Housing Discrimination?
Victims of housing discrimination deserve compensation for their ordeal. Many want injunctive relief, such as the opportunity to rent a unit or the approval of a mortgage loan. They may want procedures in place to prevent this behavior from occurring again.
However, many times, tenants also want financial recoveries for emotional distress, lost security deposits, and other lost income resulting from housing discrimination.
How Long Will My Housing Discrimination Case Last?
A housing discrimination case could take as little as a few months to reach a settlement. Landlords and tenants want the case to be over as soon as possible so they can move on to better situations.
In some cases, the case could go to court. Court processes can take a matter of a few months to several years. Working with an experienced tenant’s rights attorney can help you ensure your case settles as quickly as possible and avoids a long and strenuous litigation process.
Let Our Dedicated Housing Discrimination Lawyers Advocate for Your Rights!
As the victim of housing discrimination, you deserve an advocate fighting for your rights. Tenant’s rights are not a privilege. They are a legal right by which every landlord must abide. Our housing discrimination lawyers in New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Jersey can help you get justice for any violation of your tenant rights. Do not worry about the cost of a lawsuit. We only collect money when you recover.