Discrimination in Housing

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act), as amended, prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions. In addition to this federal law, most states and municipalities have fair housing laws that are at least as broad as the Fair Housing Act. For example, Chapter 57 of the Code of the City of Orlando provides protections against discrimination in housing. The Fair Housing Act specifically authorizes states and municipalities to pass anti-discrimination legislation with regard to housing that is broader than the Fair Housing Act. So your state and local governments may provide additional protections that the Fair Housing Act does not.

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Fair Housing Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members. Florida seniors may not realize that the Fair Housing Act covers (1) independent-living units, including condominiums, cooperatives, mobile home parks, and various other age-restricted residences, (2) assisted-living units, including those in age-restricted communities, and (3) even types of residential units in age-restricted retirement communities, including cottages, townhouses, and apartments.

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Hospices and nursing homes are also covered by the Fair Housing Act. Housing providers must treat each person equally in policies and procedures, including admission and discharge at facilities. In addition, a housing provider is required to make reasonable accommodations for disabilities, even when a resident’s condition changes after moving in, which includes changes in a senior citizen’s health while that person is living in a nursing home or other assisted- or independent-living facility.

Several courts have held that providing an exception to a “no pets” policy to allow a person to have a dog trained to assist with a health condition does qualify as a reasonable accommodation that a housing provider may be required to permit under the law. Further, a housing provider is not allowed to retaliate against any person for reporting discrimination or for assisting with the investigation of a housing discrimination complaint. If you believe you have been discriminated against with regard to your housing or if you own residential properties and would like more information about how to comply with the Fair Housing Act, please contact us to learn more.

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NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.

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