Fair Housing
From: Liz (lizsignificant.com)
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2006 07:29:55 -0700 (PDT)
I understand that housing
discrimination--or any kind of discrimination for that
matter--is  illegal only if it is directed against a person or
household because of their membership in a "class" of people who are
frequently discriminated against such as people of color, women, gays
and lesbians, people with children, etc. Am I wrong about that?

Federal Law prohibits the limiting the sale, rental, or approval of mortgages based on based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (that is, the presence of children under 18), and handicap (disability).

Local jurisdictions may ADD categories, but may not subtract categories. So in a (precious few) areas sexual orientation has been added. Source of income, professional status are others I've seen added. The law includes room rentals but not shared housing--that is, if you share the living room, you can discriminate, if you do not share space you cannot.

The law does NOT apply to individuals selling (no more than 2) homes, but it does apply to realtors, all advertising sources (including bulletin boards and such), and all lenders, so, in reality, unless you are selling only by word of mouth, and the buyer pays cash, the seller must comply.

There is an exception for Associations which own all the homes and decide who live there, but then membership in the association can't discriminate... so....

Familial Status (that is, the presence of children) can be ignored in communities that limit ownership to people who are over 62, or to communities that limit ownership to people over 55 and also follow several other requirements.

Disability includes those diagnosed and getting treatment for gender issues, so people who are transgender are covered. Addiction is also covered, you can require they be in recovery (at least for rentals, I believe), but not require that they never were addicted.

And as an aside, I do find a misconception that _discrimination_ itself is illegal in the United States. Discrimination is not illegal, rather it is illegal to discriminate against particular classes of people, in particular types of actions.

There are limited protected groups for employment (with exceptions for small businesses), the voting rights act, the Americans with disabilities act, and Title IX regarding gender discrimination in schools that receive federal funds. There are age, race and national origin anti-discrimination rules in programs that are federally funded.


(The Rev.) Elizabeth M. Magill
Mosaic Commons
Berlin, MA
Where we have land, and will (I pray) soon have a comprehensive permit.

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