Housing and Community Development Department

Fair Housing

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 as amended in 1988 (also called Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968) is legislation that protects individuals and families from discrimination in the sale, rental, financing or advertising of housing based on seven protected classes (or demographic characteristics): Race, Color, Religion, Familial Status, National Origin, Sex, and Disability.


Our Race should not determine our ability to buy a home

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Race: A grouping of humans based on shared physical or genetic traits

Examples of discrimination based on race:

  • A landlord or lender steers a black family from renting or purchasing a home in a predominately white neighborhood because they are black
  • A landlord or lender includes different terms or conditions in leases, sales or loans – like imposing higher interest rates on loans for Hispanic persons
  • Appraisers under- or over-appraise property that is owned or bought by a person of color

My skin color should not matter to a realtor

 

 

 

 


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Color: The shade of skin as an indication of someone’s race or ethnicity

Examples of discrimination based on color:

  • A real estate agent shows homes located in low-income neighborhoods only to people with darker skin colors
  • A real estate agent persuades owners to sell, rent or deny their property due to the pigment of someone’s skin


                   How I practive my religion should not limit my housing choice

 

 

 

 


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Religion: a particular system of faith and worship

Examples of discrimination based on religion:

  • A leasing agent quotes waiting periods for available units to someone wearing a head covering when apartments are immediately available
  • A property management company prohibits head coverings in common areas of a housing complex
  • A landlord denies a dwelling to someone because they are Jewish

The Fair Housing Act protects my family

 

 

 

 


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Familial Status: Households that have children under the age of 18 or are expecting a child

Examples of discrimination based on familial status:

  • A landlord refuses to rent a one-bedroom to a parent with a child
  • A landlord produces discriminatory advertisements, like advertisements that say “no children”
  • A landlord restricts residents with children to certain buildings in a complex

Where I'm from should not prevent me from living where I want

 

 

 

 


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National Origin: persons from another country or part of the world

Examples of discrimination based on national origin:

  • A real estate agent refuses to assist a homebuyer who has a limited English proficiency
  • A property management company cannot require residents to only speak English in common areas

See me as a renter, not as a woman

 

 

 

 


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Sex: The characteristics pertaining to and differentiating between masculinity and femininity based on biological sex

Examples of discrimination based on sex:

  • A landlord offers to reduce the rent or other housing benefits in lieu of sexual favors
  • A landlord cannot deny access to or a membership in a facility or service due to someone’s biological sex

My disability shouldn't restrict where I live

 

 

 

 


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Disability: A person who experiences functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of life activity:

  • Self-care
  • Learning
  • Mobility
  • Self-direction
  • Receptive or expressive language
  • Capacity for independent living
  • Economic self-sufficiency

Chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illnesses, HIV/AIDS and AIDS-related complex are also considered disabilities.

Examples of housing discrimination based on disability:
  • A landlord or real estate agent says that certain housing is unavailable (like a second-floor unit) to a person using a wheelchair when it is available
  • An apartment complex with a “no pets” policy prohibits service animals from the property
  • A landlord refuses to make or allow reasonable accommodations that will allow a resident with a disability to have better access to or in their unit
  • An apartment complex with ample parking refuses to provide a resident with a mobility impairment with a reserved parking space near their unit

More examples of housing discrimination can be found at: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/examples_housing_discrimination

In addition, it is illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others to exercise that right
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on a protected class. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

Who is Covered? 

Everyone! The Fair Housing Act protects everyone against housing discrimination, no matter who you are or what you look like.

What Housing is Not Covered? 

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing transactions, although it does have certain exemptions. In some circumstances, the 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. In addition, housing does not need to be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health and safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.

For more information about the Fair Housing Act, click here: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/fair_housing_act_overview 

Do You Have a Question About Housing Discrimination? 

Through the Fair Housing/Landlord-Tenant Hotline, HCDD staff provide information to callers who believe that they have experienced housing discrimination and offer counseling for renters, landlords and realtors regarding landlord-tenant relations. HCDD staff also provide educational materials and community presentations to increase awareness about fair housing laws and landlord-tenant rights.

For landlord-tenant counseling or to request educational materials or community presentations, call the Fair Housing/Landlord-Tenant Hotline at 832.394.6200 ext. 5 and a fair housing representative will contact you.

To inquire about housing discrimination or to file a fair housing complaint, contact the following:

Greater Houston Fair Housing Center
713.641.3247 (voice) 713.862.0909 (fax)
houstonfairhousing@swbell.net (email) http://greaterhoustonfairhousingcenter.cfsites.org/

Texas Workforce Commission – Civil Rights Division
1.888.452.4778 (voice) 1.800.735.2989 (TTY)
https://twc.texas.gov/partners/civil-rights-discrimination

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development – Fair Housing
1.800.669.9777 (voice) 1.800.927.9275 (TTY)
https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp

More fair housing posters are available to download:

The Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI) is a review of public and private policies, practices and procedures for possible barriers to fair housing choice and serves as the basis for fair housing planning. Click here to read the 2015 AI.


SAY YES to Quality Homes for All Incomes, In All Areas!

To increase awareness of the need for affordable home development in Houston, HCDD launched an outreach campaign entitled “Can I Be Your Neighbor?”. The campaign aims to create a well-informed community discourse through targeted educational presentations and informational materials. The campaign is intended to decrease misconceptions and opposition to affordable home development and to Say Yes to quality homes for all incomes in all areas of Houston. To learn more about this campaign visit www.houstontx.gov/housing/SayYes.


Have Questions about Tenant / Landlord Rights? 

Visit: www.houstontx.gov/housing/landlord_tenant.html