Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fair Housing

Fair Housing Acts prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, or familial status in real estate transactions involving residential property. It is sad that it has to be written up as a law, rather than us realizing for ourselves that it is wrong to discriminate in the first place. Some of the noted forms of violations as it applies to real estate transactions are described below.

Red Lining is the practice of lenders conspiring to refuse loans to applicants in certain neighborhoods in order to keep the minorities out.

Steering is the practice of showing or targeting only specific neighborhoods based on discriminatory criteria. So, if you ask your agent to show you properties that meet only a specific criteria based on one of the protected classes described above, your agent has to politely deny your request. Likewise, a seller insisting that the buyer be restricted to a certain class is a violation of the law. This does not mean that it is illegal to reject some one with a bad credit score as it is not discrimination based on the protected classes described above.

Block Busting or Panic Peddling is the practice of a broker hoping to profit by persuading home owners to sell claiming minority groups are moving into the neighborhood.

An important fact to keep in mind is that Fair Housing Acts does not apply to commercial properties or for owner occupied properties with less than 4 rental units. A wealth of information is available at the Housing and Urban Development web site.

If you feel you have been discriminated against, you can file a complaint with the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) within 1 year of the violation.

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