April is Fair Housing Month

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Each April, the country commemorates the passage and signing of the 1968 federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate in the sale, lease or rental of housing. Lyndon B. Johnson signed the act to ensure all Americans have equal access to the housing of their choice.

As we commemorate this historic legislation that protects your right to live where you want, it is a great time to review the protections you have under the Fair Housing Act. Here’s a closer look at fair housing today.

What is fair housing?

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance or engaging in other housing-related activities.”

The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), according to HUD. These characteristics are known as protected classes.

In addition to the above protected classes, Utah also prohibits housing discrimination based on source of income, sexual orientation or gender identity.

In the sale or rental of housing, the following are some of the activities that are illegal based on a person’s protected class, according to HUD:

Making housing unavailable

  • Setting different terms, conditions, prices or privileges for the sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Providing different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely denying that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
  • Publishing any advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of housing that indicates a preference, limitation or discrimination
  • Using different qualification criteria
  • Discouraging the purchase or rental of a dwelling
  • Assigning a person to a particular building or neighborhood
  • Persuading homeowners to sell their houses at bargain prices by suggesting that people of a particular protected class have moved or will move into the area
  • Denying anyone access to a facility or service related to the sale or rental of housing

While most housing is covered, there are a few exceptions, so make sure to visit HUD.gov and LaborCommission.utah.gov for more information about what constitutes housing discrimination.

What should I do if I suspect a fair housing violation?

The Utah Labor Commission’s Antidiscrimination and Labor Division enforces fair housing laws in Utah. Visit LaborCommission.utah.gov and search for Fair Housing to learn more and find the Intake Questionnaire to start the complaint process.

Complaints submitted to the Utah Labor Commission are also automatically filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

What are Realtors doing to promote fair housing?

Realtors recognize the significance of the Fair Housing Act and are committed to upholding fair housing laws and providing equal professional services for all.

Along with ongoing efforts to promote fair housing, National Association of Realtors President Charlie Oppler has challenged Realtors to complete a Fair Housing Challenge. This challenge includes participation in a simulation about fair housing and completion of an implicit bias training. Realtors also have the opportunity to earn the At Home with Diversity Certification, which provides training on fair housing laws and information about working with people in an increasingly multicultural real estate market.

The National Association of Realtors is also sponsoring a special event on April 15 titled “The Past, Present, and Future of Fair Housing.”

To learn more about Realtors’ efforts to support fair housing, visit NAR.realtor/fair-housing/fair-housing-month.