Most housing discrimination complaints involve race and disability, according to the recently released 2013 Fair Housing Trends Report complied by the National Fair Housing Alliance.
Overall, complaints in 2012 were up 5% from the prior year – 28,518 complaints in 2012 compared to the 27,092 in 2011. The report includes complaints investigated by private non-profit fair housing organizations, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Justice, and state and local government agencies such as state civil rights commissions. HUD believes that this represents less than one percent of the estimated four million instances of housing discrimination against people currently protected by the Fair Housing Act. The agency says people do not report housing discrimination because they do not know where to go, they feel nothing will be done, or they are afraid of retaliation.
In the report, the NFHA calls for the Act, which was originally passed in 1968, to be updated to “outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income and marital status.” The report shows that complaints rose significantly in these areas. Those managing rental properties should be aware of the upward trends in these complaints.
The NHFA noted that the Fair Housing Act does not address individuals in those classes, leaving them at the mercy of state laws. Many states have not outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation (29 states), gender identity (34 states), source of income (38 states) and marital status (28 states). As a result, complaints have risen in those areas with particular growth in cases involving marital status (up 63%), sexual orientation (up 43%), and legal sources of income (up 38%). A 2011 survey of 6,450 in the transgender category found that 19% were denied a home or apartment according to the NFHA.
The fair housing trends report goes on to say that disability complaints remain the highest for several reasons. “Many apartment owners make direct comments refusing to make reasonable accommodations or modifications for people with disabilities so discrimination is easier to detect,” the report states. The report says an example of a “reasonable accommodation” would be providing a handicapped parking spot with a curb cut for a resident in a wheelchair.
The report shows that of the 9,017 cases handled by HUD and Fair Housing Assistance Program, 1,223 (13.5%) were administratively closed and 4,101 (45.4%) were decided with no cause found. Conciliation, settlement, or withdrawal after resolution was the ruling in 3,346 (37.1%) of cases.
To ensure that prospective residents are always being treated fairly and to avoid the high legal costs of defending housing discrimination claims, property managers should be cautious in their pre-rental resident screening.
- Tagged as: fair housing