One of your civil rights is to have housing wherever you want it, even if you fall into certain stereotyped categories. This policy was first brought about in the 1960s, when race was a huge problem in housing. Because blacks could only get housing in certain areas, it was easy for some neighborhoods to turn into crime-ridden places to live while other neighborhoods would be well maintained by the police. The Fair Housing Act has helped to put an end to discrimination.
In the 1960s, civil rights became a huge political and social issue. The Fair Housing Act was put to use officially in 1968 as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. According to the Fair Housing Act, everyone, regardless of who they are, has certain rights in regards to shelter. These rights made it illegal to:
• Refuse to rent or sell to someone purely based on race, religion, or nationality
• Change the conditions of the rent or sale because on race, religion, or nationally
• Advertise in a way specifically meant to prefer people based on race, religion, or nationality.
• Threaten or coerce someone into moving out based on discriminatory reasons
• Interfere with personal enjoyment of housing based on discriminatory reasons
These laws meant that blacks could move into white neighborhoods, which was a first for many states, especially those in the south. Today, there is still discrimination, but with the Fair Housing Act, you can take someone to court if these refuse housing to you based on discriminatory reasons.
Certain changes have been made to the Fair Housing Act since 1968 to further include people who belong to groups that are often discriminated against. In 1974, changes were added to add sex to the list. Therefore, no longer could someone refuse to rent or sell to someone based on the fact that they were a male or female. Later, in 1988, disability was also added to the list. This was further strengthened and explained in 1990 with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Also in 1988, familial status was added to the list. You cannot discriminate against someone because they are married (or not married). Furthermore, this outlawed the refusal to rent or sell because children were anticipated. Some landlords were denying rent to pregnant women or newlyweds based on the fact that they didn’t want children damaging their apartment.
Fair House Act issues are hard to prove, especially if multiple people applied for the same apartment. However, it is important to file a complaint in case you believe that there was a discriminatory issue. Multiple complaints about the same landlord will help to bring about change! If you believe that someone has discriminated against you, your best option is to go to your local Housing and Urban Development Office. From there, you’ll be sent to their Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, where they can help you file an official complaint an speak to someone who can help you figure out what to do next.