What is Fair Housing?
Fair Housing is best described as “Equal Opportunity for All.” But, more specifically, it is one of our most fundamental rights to live peacefully, where we choose, under the law. Fair Housing is the right of all people to buy, sell, or rent residential property and to live where they wish without discriminatory criteria. Having chosen a place to live, we are guaranteed the right to reside there peacefully, without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender, orientation, marital status, familial status or disability.
What does Fair Housing mean to me?
Pursuant to State Government Article, §20-702, Annotated Code of Maryland, it is the policy of the State of Maryland to provide for fair housing throughout the State, to all its citizens, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, religion, color, orientation, physical or mental disability, marital status, or familial status.
Housing discrimination laws make it illegal to:
- Refuse to rent a dwelling to any qualified buyer or renter;
- Use discriminatory terms and conditions in selling or renting;
- Set terms and conditions of home loans in such a way as to discriminate;
- Use discriminatory notices or advertisements indicating a preference or discriminatory limitations;
- Say that a dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rent when, in fact, it is available;
- Attempt to steer persons into or away from neighborhoods or apartment complexes due to being members of a protected class;
- Treat a person differently from everyone else because of race, disability, familial status (parent or legal custodian with children, pregnant), religion, sex, marital status, national origin or sexual orientation;
- Request information about birth control and/or family planning practices;
- Refuse to consider both applicants’ incomes when seeking to buy or rent;
- Commit acts of prejudice, violence, harassment, intimidation, or abuse directed against families or individuals or their residential property.
For full details about what Fair Housing means to you, please read the HUD and DOJ Joint Statement on Reasonable Modifications.
If you have a disability, you are protected under the law. It is against the law to:
- Refuse to permit, or at the expense of the renter, reasonable house modifications that are necessary for the daily life of a person with a mental or physical disability;
- Refuse to reasonably accommodate or adjust rules, policies, services or practices that hamper the use of an apartment, condominium, or house by a person with a physical or mental disability;
- Have multi-family housing that is not accessible to people with disabilities. Multi-family housing is required to have accessible units and access routes (wide doors and hallways), accessible public and common areas, and management must provide for effective communication as needed by a disabled person.
Harassment on the basis of a protected class (above, such as sexual harassment), and retaliation for filing a complaint or being involved in the investigation are both prohibited under law and enforced by MCCR.
If you have been denied your housing rights, you may have experienced unlawful discrimination. If you believe that actions have been taken against you based on a discriminatory animus, it is imperative that you contact our agency immediately to initiate an inquiry, so that we can assist you in determining if you have been a victim of housing discrimination. Our trained Intake Staff will guide you through the intake process and, through a series of questions and interviews, help you analyze your situation to determine if the actions taken against meet the threshold of being considered discriminatory.
You can find out how to initiate an inquiry with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights by clicking here.
Visit the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights online for detailed information about Fair Housing and filing an inquiry or complaint. Or call MCCR at 301-797-8521.
What does HUD have to do with Fair Housing?
Federal law also protects individuals against discrimination in housing. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has online tools and information that mirror the resources provided by the State of Maryland, to protect individuals from housing discrimination.
Visit the HUD website at http://www.hud.gov/fairhousing for details. Or call for immediate assistance at 1-800-669-9777.