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Fair Housing

Fair Housing is the freedom to choose where you want to live regardless of your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability.  The law protects people from discrimination in housing transactions involving rental, sales, lending, and insurance.

The Fair Housing Act

Coverage Under the Act

The act covers residential housing in the markets of rental, sales, lending and insurance to include private and subsidized housing.  

Prohibitions Under the Act

When the housing provider, because of your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability:

  • Refuses to negotiate for housing.
  • Sets different terms, conditions or privileges for sale, rental, lending or insurance of a dwelling.
  • Provides different housing services or facilities.
  • Falsely denies that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental.
  • For profit, induces someone to sell or rent because of the protected class that is moving into the neighborhood.
  • Denies anyone access to or membership in a rental or sales facility or service (such as a multiple listing service).
  • Threatens, coerces, intimidates or interferes with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others to exercise a right.
  • Advertises or makes any statement that indicates a limitation, preference, or discrimination based on a protected class.

Special Provisions Under the Act

Disabled persons who have a physical or a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities such as walking, seeing, and hearing can request reasonable accommodations in the rules, policies, practices or services and/or if necessary, they can request that reasonable modifications be allowed to be made to a dwelling in order that they may be afforded the equal opportunity to the use and enjoyment of the dwelling.

How to Report Housing Discrimination

State Reporting

The State of Tennessee takes complaints of discrimination serious.  Tennessee has a Fair Housing Act. 

In the State of Tennessee an individual who believes that they have been discriminated against can file a complaint with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC).  You can find the complaint here.  

A complaint must be filed with THRC within 180 days of the date of the last alleged discriminatory act or you lose the right to file with the Commission. Count that time period from the last date you allege discriminatory conduct occurred. You must file a complaint with the Commission before the end of that time period or lose the right to file a complaint with the Commission. This office may be able to help you file a complaint with THRC.  Call us today or complete the online application for help.

THRC will investigate the complaint to determine if reasonable cause exists to believe that a violation of the Act occurred based upon protected class membership.  THRC will attempt to conciliate between you and the person/entity that you allege committed such acts to provide you with a suitable recovery and should the Commission find reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice did occur, will proceed, should you chose administrative or court action, for recovery of damages. 

To file a lawsuit under the state Act, you must file within one year of the last alleged discriminatory act or lose the right to file suit. If you choose to file suit under the state Act, you must do so before one year has passed from the date of the last alleged discriminatory housing practice or lose the right to sue under the state Act.

The filing of a complaint with THRC does not stop the running of the one year state Statute of Limitations under the state Fair Housing Act within which to file a lawsuit under the state Act.

 

Federal Reporting

You may file a complaint with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and they will investigate the complaint to determine if reasonable cause exists to believe that a violation of the Act occurred based upon protected class membership.  HUD will attempt to conciliate between you and the person/entity that you allege committed the alleged discriminatory practices to provide you with a suitable recovery.  Should HUD find reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory housing practice did occur, they will proceed, should you chose administrative or court action, for recovery of damages.  

A complaint must be filed with HUD within one year of the date of the last alleged discriminatory act or you lose the right to file a complaint with HUD.  You can find the complaint here.  This office may be able to assist you in filing a complaint with HUD.  Call us today or complete the online application for help.

To file a lawsuit under the federal Fair Housing Act, you must file within two years of the last alleged discriminatory act or lose the right to file suit.

The filing of a complaint with HUD stops the running of the two year federal Statute of Limitations under the federal Fair Housing Act while HUD is investigating the complaint. When the investigation is completed and/or the case closed by HUD then the two year Statute of Limitations in which to file suit under the federal Fair Housing Act commences to run again.

As you can see, under both the state and the federal Fair Housing Acts, there are applicable Statutes of Limitations within which an individual alleging discriminatory housing practices must act or lose the ability to proceed.  This is why it is best to file your complaint as soon as possible.  Call us today or complete the online application for help.

 

More Information

To download more information regarding Fair Housing, visit our Resources and click on Housing and Fair Housing.

The work that provided the basis for this presentation was supported by funding under a grant with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public.  The author and presenter are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this presentation. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.