We all want to feel happy and secure in our homes. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 helps ensure everyone feels safe by outlawing housing discrimination. In celebration of this landmark civil rights law, we recognize April as National Fair Housing Month. Here are some key items to know about this important law.
What is the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act is a piece of the larger Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII addresses housing discrimination in various forms. The law protects us from discrimination in rental housing, mortgage lending, home sales and other housing-related transactions. Housing protections were the culmination of years of efforts by civil rights leaders and activists. In fact, the act was signed into law one week after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was tragically assassinated.
In honor of National Fair Housing Month, let’s explore more about what the Fair Housing Act accomplished and who it applies to.
What types of housing are covered?
The Fair Housing Act protects sellers and most renters from discrimination based on race, color, religion, familial status, national origin or disability. All rental units are protected, except buildings with fewer than four units that are also occupied by the owner.
All sales of real estate are covered by the Fair Housing Act, and lending activities related to sales are covered too.
What protections does the act include?
At its most basic level, the act prevents any discriminatory practice towards a covered group. Covered groups are any category mentioned above, such as race. For example, before the Fair Housing Act, it wasn’t uncommon for realtors to “steer” black families away from predominantly white neighborhoods. This is exactly the type of activity the Fair Housing Act now prohibits!
Mortgage lenders are also a part of the Fair Housing Act. The act ensures that applicants receive fair and nondiscriminatory treatment at every step of the mortgage process. People with disabilities are able to have their disability-related income, such as Social Security Disability Insurance, included in their income. In addition, pregnant women are protected from discrimination based on the idea that they may be taking maternity leave.
The Fair Housing Act versus sexual harassment
While often overlooked, a crucial part of the Fair Housing Act is that it prevents sexual harassment in the housing context as well. Both renters and homebuyers are protected from sexual harassment of any kind because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development views it as a form of sex discrimination. Whether it be inappropriate demands or creating a hostile environment, renters and homebuyers can rely on the Fair Housing Act to shield them from inappropriate and illegal behavior.
Buying a home during National Fair Housing Month?
The Fair Housing Act was a big step towards a more fair and just society. As you continue on the home-buying journey, take a moment to acknowledge the impact of this law, and partner with a mortgage loan officer you can trust. First Centennial Mortgage has 25 years of experience helping buyers navigate the home mortgage process.
Contact us today for help with planning, applying, qualifying and closing on your dream home. We look forward to helping you!