3 Housing Discrimination Laws You Should Know

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Housing discrimination laws prohibit landlords from treating individuals of certain groups differently than other tenants. Federal law covers many different housing discrimination issues. Your city or state may have additional housing discrimination laws that differ from federal rules. Here are three laws you should know:

1. Protected Groups

The federal government has housing discrimination laws that protect potential renters based on:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Marital and family status

These groups are protected from various housing tactics that some landlords may employ to discriminate against them. For example, a landlord can’t advertise a property by requesting that only African-Americans should apply. A landlord cannot refuse to rent an apartment to someone on the sole basis of them belonging to one of the above groups. They also have to apply the same standards to all renters, whether it’s running credit checks, charging more in rent for one person over another, or evicting a tenant based on discrimination.

2. Non-English Speaking Tenants

A landlord is not allowed to discriminate against a potential tenant if they have a limited grasp of English. This rule was established by a Presidential Executive Order, and thus was never enacted by Congress. The landlord must make every effort to treat a non-English speaking person the same as any other applicant.

3. Accommodations for Disabilities

A landlord is required to meet the needs of a disabled tenant at the landlord’s own expense. This includes making the property wheelchair accessible, for example. Landlords can also be required to lower kitchen countertops and install safer appliances if needed. However, the landlord is allowed to ask for proof from the tenant that these modifications are medically necessary before paying for them. Proof can be provided in the form of a letter from the tenant’s doctor.

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