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What’s covered by the Fair Housing Act

November 4, 2011
By MARIO D'ARTAGNAN - Real Estate in Perspective , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

This week's topic covers the Fair Housing Act, which is Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, including amendments. This law prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability).

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing, and 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. When selling or renting property, no one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:

- Refuse to rent or sell housing

- Refuse to negotiate for housing

- Make housing unavailable

- Deny a dwelling

- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling

- Provide different housing services or facilities

- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental

- For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or

- Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

Moreover, anyone having a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or has a record of such a disability, a landlord may not refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disable person to use the housing. Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move. If someone is visually impaired, the landlord may not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development is responsible for the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. The entire act is lengthy and may be read in its entirety by visiting There are exemptions to the law as well as accessibility requirements for buildings constructed after March 13, 1991. Much of this material was obtained directly from the HUD website.

Mario is a broker associate with Realty World Florida Inc. He is a former investigator for the Florida Real Estate Commission. He is also a former real estate instructor. He is a published author and has been a keynote speaker on the subject of agency law. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. For questions or comments contact Mr. D'Artagnan at: or call 239-565-4445



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