Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

National Association of Realtors® Adds Gender Identity to Ethical Code

Members of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) who discriminate based on gender identity are now in violation of their ethical code, following a vote conducted on Monday, November 11, which added the protected class, according to a report from REALTOR® Magazine.

This is the second time that the REALTORS® Code of Ethics was amended to include a protected class that's not a part of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Two years ago, NAR members voted to add sexual orientation as a protected class to their ethical code (see "NAR Bars Sexual Orientation Discrimination… Is Congress Next?").

Is the recent addition of sexual orientation and now gender identity a sign of where federal legislation might be headed?

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Seven Years After Its Enactment, a Local Fair Housing Law Has Its Day in Court

A New York court judge ruled that owners and managers of a Buffalo apartment complex are liable for violating the city's fair housing law banning discrimination based on source of income. At issue was whether a prospective tenant can legally be turned away because she holds housing choice (Section 8) vouchers.

The judge ruled that such action violates the ban because landlords in that city can't base tenancy decisions on where a prospect would get the rent money owed under their lease.

The 2013 ruling is the first for this civil rights ordinance, which was enacted in 2006, according to a report from WNYmedia.net. The court will rule on damages in a separate proceeding.

Should federal law include "source of income" as a protected class? Is it fair for landlords to not have a choice when it comes to housing choice vouchers?

What do you think?

Important to note:
  • In addition to cities, many states include protected classes not found in the Fair Housing Act. Check out the "Protected Classes Tool" at fairhousingresources.com to find out the situation in your state.
  • As an owner or manager, it's important to get familiar with state and local differences in fair housing law when running a building in a different part of the country. In this case, the apartment complex was owned by absentee owners and managers based in California, according to the report. Learn more compliance tips by reading the new Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Supportive Living Facility Sued for 'No Mental Illness' Policy

A supportive living facility with a stated mission to "promote a better lifestyle for people with physical disabilities while encouraging self-direction, greater privacy, independence and dignity" is under fire for allegedly refusing to rent to people who have received a mental health diagnosis.

According to a report from The Beacon News, Eden Supportive Living of North Aurora, Illinois, communicated a "no mental illness" policy to prospective tenants and told prospects who revealed a mental health diagnosis that they can't live there.

The lawsuit, filed by HOPE Fair Housing Center in federal district court against Eden and the State of Illinois, claims this policy violates the Fair Housing Act's (FHA) ban on disability-based discrimination and that state regulations that facilitate such a policy are illegal.

(Indeed, at the time of this writing, Eden indicates on its Web site that "Supportive Living is an assisted living model administered by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services that combines housing with services for persons 22 and over with physical disabilities.")

The FHA specifically includes "a physical or mental impairment" in its coverage definition, and so limiting tenancy only to people with physical impairments would mean denying housing to people who are protected under the same part of the law.


Visit fairhousinghelper.com to learn about comprehensive, convenient, low-cost fair housing training, with Web site badge and personalized certificate of training included.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Grand Forks Becomes First North Dakota City to Ban Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination in Housing

Sexual orientation and gender identity are two protected classes that aren't among the seven federally protected ones outlined in the Fair Housing Act.

They're also not part of North Dakota's fair housing law, which adds protection based on age (40 and older), marital status, and public assistance status.

But yesterday, a ban against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity became law in Grand Forks, after the city council voted 5-2 in favor, according to a report from the Grand Forks Herald. Landlords who violate the ban put their rental license and certificates of occupancy at risk and may face a $500 fine for each offense.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Testers Show Ohio Landlord Didn't Make the Grade

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission yesterday ordered the landlord of an apartment building in Conneaut, Ohio, to pay over $11,000 in damages, attorney's fees, and travel costs for a complaint alleging violations of the FHA and state fair housing law's ban on discrimination based on familial status and disability.

According to a report from The Columbus Dispatch, the landlord:
  • told testers who claimed to need service animals for a disability either that all animals aren't allowed under any circumstances, or that keeping an animal for a disability would require a specific deposit; and

  • told a tester who posed as a single mother with a child that she can only rent a downstairs apartment at a higher cost (a practice commonly known as "steering").
Interestingly, the only allegations at issue were discriminatory acts committed against testers. Unlike actual victims, testers only pretend to be looking for an apartment while checking for fair housing compliance.

(Learn more about steering by reading "Fair Housing Help: Identify and Avoid Illegal Steering" and get more information about the role of testers by reading "Landlording in a World of Fair Housing Testing.")

Was this a fair outcome? Should the fact that the complaint stemmed from allegations based solely on testing play a role in determining liability or the amount of damages?

What do you think?


Looking for fair housing compliance training
that's informative, engaging, convenient, and affordable?

Check out the new

Fair Housing Helper
for Apartment Professionals

Visit www.fairhousinghelper.com for more information.

Find out how you can become a
FairHousingHelper.com Gold Professional
at no additional charge.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Celebrate the Fourth With $4 Off Fair Housing Helper

Now through Independence Day, enjoy $4 off when purchasing directly through the Fair Housing Helper eStore with the following coupon code: 4GGBTTYM.

What is Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals? Is it for you? How do you become a FairHousingHelper.com Gold Professional?

Get all the answers by visiting www.fairhousinghelper.com today!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fair Housing Helper Featured at BookExpo America 2013

Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals was featured at BookExpo America 2013, the leading book industry event in North America, which was held last week at New York City's Javits Center.

Published in April to coincide with Fair Housing Month, Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals is an affordable, engaging, and convenient way for landlords, property managers, leasing agents, and staff comply with the Fair Housing Act and related housing discrimination laws. With 28,519 fair housing complaints filed last year alone, according to newly released data compiled by the National Fair Housing Alliance, fair housing compliance remains a top, year-round concern for the residential housing industry.

For more information about the book and how you can earn your FairHousingHelper.com Gold Professional designation, please visit www.fairhousinghelper.com.

Author and Fair Housing Helper
Founder/President Ron Leshnower

Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals
can be purchased from online retailers such as

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fair Housing Helper 25% Off Sale Extended Through Friday

Fair Housing Helper is pleased to announce that the Memorial Day Weekend sale is extended through the end of the month.

There's still a chance for you to enjoy 25% off when purchasing the new Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals by Friday, May 31, 2013, directly through the Fair Housing Helper eStore with the following coupon code: HTZSSK79.

What is Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals? Is it for you? How do you become a FairHousingHelper.com Gold Professional?

Get all the answers by visiting www.fairhousinghelper.com today!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Sale: Save 25% on Fair Housing Helper

Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals is here... If you're a landlord, property manager, or other professional who interacts with renters or apartment hunters, learn how Fair Housing Helper can help you.

Fair Housing Helper is a new type of fair housing training that's comprehensive, engaging, flexible, and affordable, and is now available on Amazon.com and other online retailers.  

This Memorial Day Weekend, enjoy 25% off when purchasing directly through the Fair Housing Helper eStore with the following coupon code: HTZSSK79.

What is Fair Housing Helper for Apartment Professionals? Is it for you? How do you become a FairHousingHelper.com Gold Professional?

Get all the answers by visiting www.fairhousinghelper.com today!