Today I want to talk about the Fair Housing Act and why it matters. The Fair Housing Act was signed into law in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This was four years after the Civil Rights Act was passed and within a week of when Martin Luther King was fatally shot. Thus, there was a great need for protection, especially housing, at this time.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in all areas of housing from buying to selling, leasing, lending, and even marketing all fall under the Fair Housing Act. The goal of the Fair Housing Act is to provide equal access, and equal opportunity to Housing.

As the scope of the Fair Housing Act is so broad there are numerous professions that would fall under it, such as—

–       Lenders

–       Appraisers

–       Real Estate Agents

–       Real Estate Brokers

–       Housing Providers

–       Property Managers

–       Even Facebook is subject to the Fair Housing Act

This series will be focused on Housing Providers and Property Managers. As a general rule, the Fair Housing Act applies to Housing Providers who over four units or more. However, Housing Providers who own four units or less can still be subject to the Fair Housing Act if they use a Property Manager to manage their property or if the property is owned by a business.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination base on any Protected Class. The Protected Classes are race, color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, and familiar status. And the Utah Fair Housing Act also includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and source of income.

It’s important to note that not all discrimination is illegal. For instance, you can prohibit smokers from occupying your units. And not all discrimination is obvious. Even in 2019, 40 years after the Fair Housing Act was passed, there are still blatant forms of discrimination that get reported in Fair Housing Complaints.

Not all complaints are not obvious or intended by the Housing Provider. These violations include—

–        Policies that create a disparate impact on a protect class.

–       Failing to provide a reasonable accommodation or modification.

–       Failing to prohibit discrimination by others within your control, such as other tenants, or your employees.

The fact that Fair Housing violations are not always obvious and not always intended is exactly why SEB Legal now presents to you #FairHousingFriday so that we can share best practices and tips in order to promote Fair Housing compliance.