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Congress implemented the Fair Housing Act initially in 1968, it was then altered in 1988 and protects home buyers and renters alike from all types of discriminatory practices. Under the precepts of the Fair Housing Act, sellers and property owners are not allowed to deny a sale or reject a rental application because of race, color, religion, nationality, gender, disabilities, or family status. A seller stands in violation of the Fair Housing Act if he or she refuses your bid or rental application based on any of these personal circumstances. This includes inflating the price to try to make the property unappealing. If you own a property that you're leasing to tenants, the Fair Housing Act requires you to make reasonable alterations to your policies to give those with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For instance, while you might justly refuse to rent to tenants with animals, the Fair Housing Act dictates that you may not refuse to rent to an individual who is blind and owns an assistance animal. Also, under the Fair Housing Act, landlords must allow disabled tenants to make changes to their own living space that may make their habitation more agreeable to their disability. There are new requirements for landlords that plan to rent a multi-family home with more than four units. The construction and design must conform to the requirements of disabled persons. For example, public-use areas, such as laundry and mailrooms must be accessible, doors must be wide enough to admit wheelchairs, and bathrooms and kitchens must be spacious enough to permit someone in a wheelchair to get around easily. The entry to the facilities must also be accessible and unobstructed, all light switches, thermostats and electrical outlets must be accessible, and bathroom walls need to be reinforced, in case disabled tenants need to install grab bars later on. Has a landlord or seller rejected your application because of your race, religion, nationality, and so on? If so, you have a legal recourse and should start by filing a complaint with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, also known as HUD. After documenting the complaint, you will receive a letter back from HUD acknowledging that they have gotten a copy of your complaint. Next, an investigation begins and HUD determines if your case should be taken up or not. If HUD considers your complaint legitimate, they will then try to reach some type of agreement between you and the seller or owner of the home. If the owner of the home does not seem like he or she will honor their end of the bargain, then HUD can make a recommendation to the U.S. Attorney General and file a suit against the owner for you. Within three months, the case will go to a hearing and this costs you absolutely nothing. It is your option to retain a private attorney to file for punitive damages in a separate law suit if you decide to do so.


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Fair Housing Rights For Tenants and Buyers