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Questions about the Fair Housing Act Regulations

The Fair Housing Act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, disability, national origin, and familial status when renting or selling housing or a dwelling. These housing rights cover private housing, housing provided by state and local governments, and housing that has federal loans or other assistance. Listed below are some top questions answered by Experts on issues that relate to the Fair Housing Act.

Does the Fair Housing Act protect an existing, leased condominium unit from the association wanting an end date for the lease?

The Fair Housing Act was created to prohibit discrimination based on protected classes like race, gender, religion, and disability. Whether condominium associations can demand that existing leases have to have end dates or not does should not fall under the Act’s set of rules and regulations.

This is a question that relates to a federally subsidized housing property. Is it a Fair Housing Act violation to ask a tenant (or applicant) to submit a copy of the IRS income tax 1040 and/or require them to sign a waiver stating that they did not file a tax return?

This would probably not be considered a violation of the Fair Housing Act. Most landlords are required to verify an applicant’s income and showing tax returns is one of the forms that can be legally requested.

What are the Home Owners Association’s (HOA) rights to restrict the selling or renting of a unit? How does the Fair Housing Act impact it?

The HOA is not allowed to discriminate in the selling or renting of a property based on factors like color, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, and disability of an individual. The HOA could restrict rules regarding the renting of a home located in the Association area. However, to the extent that the Fair Housing Act differs from the rules laid down by the HOA, the Fair Housing Act would most likely take precedence in a case like this.

We have been experiencing discrimination against seniors in a housing-related issue in Bellevue that is being done by the city itself. The city official feels they do not need to adhere to the Fair Housing Act and has challenged us to report them. Who can we go to for legal help in resolving this?

What you could do is visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) office closest to your neighborhood and report your city to them. In addition, you could also try and file a lawsuit against the city under the Fair Housing Act. For more information on where to find a HUD office near you, visit this link: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states

I live in Maryland and have a doctor’s letter stating that I need to have a dog to help my mental stability. There is a no-dog rule in the by-laws of the condo I stay in. Is there anything I can do about this?

In most cases, the only kind of dog that would get around the by-laws would be a service dog such as one that is trained to help people with hearing or sight impairments. A pet who is there purely as a companion will probably not get around the no-dog rules of your association easily, even if you say that its presence affects your emotional health positively.

You could talk to your physician about this. If he can render a professional opinion stating that you have a disability, then there is a chance that the association will have to listen to you based on what is laid down under the Fair Housing Act.

If the association still does nothing, you could think about filing a complaint about the violation of the Fair Housing Act with HUD. If you would like more information or to file a complaint, contact:

Office of Program Compliance and Disability Rights
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development XXXXX S.W. , Room 5242
Washington, D.C. 20410
www.hud.gov/offices/fheo

The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from discrimination and enables them to file complaints against their owners for violation of the rules. That’s why it’s important for both tenants and landlords to understand how the Act works.
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