Community Guide to Fair Housing

Seneca- Tiffin
Fair Housing Consortium

Fair Housing is Your Right!

Fair Housing is a right protected by federal and state laws. Fair housing means you may freely choose a place to live without regard to your race, color, religion, sex, national origin or because you are disabled or have children in your family.

Housing Discrimination is Illegal!

Fair Housing opens doors...but only with your help. Learn to recognize the signs of discrimination in rental, sales, lending and insurance.

How Do You Recognized Discrimination?

Housing discrimination is rarely blatant. It is usually disguised and, more often than not, is done with a smile and a handshake. Your fair housing rights are violated when you are prevented from doing the following because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, family or military status.

  • Viewing or renting an apartment.
  • Viewing or purchasing a home.
  • Applying for or securing a home loan.
  • Purchasing homeowners or renters insurance.

Be suspicious when you hear statements like...

  • "I rented that apartment after you called."
  • "This building is for adults only."
  • "I don't really want all those changes, a ramp, grab bars; that's too much."
  • "We can't have mentally retarded people living here. Who will take care of them? It will make the neighbors uncomfortable."
  • "Do you think you can afford this neighborhood?"
  • "The owner just took the house off the market."
  • "We just can't seem to get an appointment to show you the house."
  • "There is a problem with the appraisal."
  • "We have a minimum mortgage amount; we don't make loans under $30,000."

Consequences of Housing Discrimination

  • Denial of the housing in the area of your choice.
  • Emotional harm and financial loss.
  • Denial of quality of an integrated community and associations.
  • Denial of expanding job opportunities in the suburbs.
  • Lack of access to greater choices of schools.
  • Negative attitudes towards the community.
  • Perpetuates other housing problems.
  • A loss in cultural diversity.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly, do the right thing and call one of the following numbers:

Seneca-Tiffin Fair Housing Consortium. . . . . . .1-800-941-4558
The Department of Housing and Urban Development
Fair Housing Hotline. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-800-669-9777
TDD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-800-927-9275
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission. . . . . . . . . . .1-888-278-7101
TTY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1-614-466-9353

What can you do to Support Fair Housing?

  • Support your local fair housing group.
  • Volunteer to help with investigations and educational activities.
  • Let your City, County, State and National Elected Officials know you support Fair Housing.
  • Encourage your friends and neighbors to support fair housing.
  • Refer those with housing questions to the fair housing program for assistance.
  • Hold your elected officials and other officers accountable for supporting fair housing.

If you have a Disability

You have the right to the housing of your choice.

It is illegal for anyone to deny housing because you have a mental or physical disability, or a record of having had a mental or physical disability.

The Fair Housing Act protects people with mental retardation, mental illness, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, visual and hearing impairments, AIDS, and other disabilities. People who use walkers, wheelchairs, companion animals, or a personal care attendant are all protected against housing discrimination.

How to Recognize Discrimination Against the Disabled...

Landlords and real estate agents usually don't say,

  • "You can't live here because you have a handicap.

Some of the things they do say are:

  • "You can't live here because there's no one to take care of you"
  • "I'd like to rent to you, but my insurance will go up."
  • "How can I be sure you will pay the rent?"
  • "We don't want alcoholics or drug addicts here, even if they are in recovery programs."
  • "We have a no-pets rule, and that includes your guide dog."
  • "I want to see your medical records."
  • "Your wheelchair will damage the carpet and walls, and you won't be able to get out if there's a fire."

You are entitled to reasonable accommodations!

Landlords must let you make physical changes to your apartment if you need them, but landlords don't have to pay for them, that is your responsibility. For example, if you need grab bars in the bathroom or wider doors, the landlord must give you permission to make the changes. Remember...the cost of the changes are yours.

Landlords must make reasonable exceptions to rules that interfere with your ability to live comfortably in your home. For example, if you need to make an extra key so a friend can come to help you, the landlord has to bend the rule that only tenants may have keys. If you can't hear a smoke alarm, the landlord must install visual alarms in public areas and must let you put one in your apartment.

If you Have Children...

You have the right to the housing of your choice. Housing discrimination against families with children is no longer legal in any state or in the nation. This means that families cannot be denied housing simply because they have children.

The law protects pregnant women, families with children, adults serving as guardians for children, and those in the process of obtaining legal custody of children (such as adoption.)

The protected class of Familial Status only protects families with children. It is not related to marital status, sexual preference or unmarried couples living together.

How to Recognize Housing Discrimination Against Families with Children...

Suspect housing discrimination when these types of comments are made:

  • "We take younger children, but teenagers will disturb the other tenants."
  • "Sure, we rent to families with kids, but we'll need an extra security deposit."
  • "Only 3 people are allowed in a 2 bedroom apartment."
  • "Children are only allowed in the basement and the first floor units."
  • "Our "Kids" building is full."
  • "This complex isn't suitable for children-no playground or open space."
  • "Sorry, a parent and a child cannot share a bedroom."

In some very narrow circumstances, it is legal to exclude families with children from an apartment or housing of their choice. Housing complexes designated for older persons can exclude families if they meet certain strict criteria.

Harassment is a Crime!

If you are being threatened, coerced, harassed, or intimidated because of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, family or military status, or because of the race of your relatives or visitors, call your local F.B.I. office and police department. Also report the problem to the Fair Housing Program, to HUD and/or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Harassment is a criminal violation of the Fair Housing Act!

If you are Sexually Harassed

It is a violation of the Fair Housing Act for a landlord or his/her agent to ask for or require sexual favors in exchange for the rental of an apartment, lease renewal, repairs, or any other condition or privilege of renting.

Sexual harassment can range from the landlord or agent (superintendent, maintenance worker, rental manager, etc.) Making sexual comments to actually physically assaulting you.

The landlord may be direct and demand that you sleep with him to rent the apartment or get repairs made. He may enter your apartment without permission and make sexually offensive comments to you or try to touch you.

If you have engaged in sexual activities to pay the rent or security deposit or to get repairs made, and you refuse further demands for sexual contact with the landlord, you may still be a victim of sexual harassment.

The landlord cannot retaliate against you because you say "NO!" or because your report him. He may try to evict you, refuse to do repairs, raise your rent, or threaten you because you refused his sexual advances. They are violations of the law, and you should it immediately!

Fair Housing...

Fair Housing for all is the law. It is unlawful to deny people the opportunity to live where they want and can afford. If you feel you are being treated unfairly, take the following steps:

  1. Keep a record of any meetings and phone calls with the landlord, the property manager, real estate agent, loan officer or insurance agent. Include the person's name, title, the meeting date, and time.
  2. Write down what happen and what was said by all participants. Save all receipts, applications, leases, business cards, brochures, or other documents that you were given.
  3. Call and break the barrier of housing discrimination: Seneca-Tiffin

Fair Housing Consortium
1-800-941-4558

The Fair Housing Program is here to help you by answering your housing questions, assisting you in finding the right answers, to provide education on your rights and responsibilities, to assist you in filing a fair housing complaint. The Fair Housing Program offers assistance to everyone, tenants, landlords, real estate professionals, home buyers, home sellers, lenders, appraisers, county residents, government officials, etc. There is no fee for this service.

Acknowledgement
This document was published with support through the Community Development Block Grant program of the State of Ohio, through the Office of Housing and Community Partnerships.