Equal Opportunity Housing refers to the idea that all persons should be granted “equal opportunities” when it comes to renting or purchasing real property. This is usually in reference to anti-discrimination policies and laws set forth by state and federal governments. The term is often used in connection with the phrase “Fair Housing”.
An example of an equal opportunity housing law is the Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal for persons to discriminate against renters or buyers based on their:
- National Origin
- Familial Status
Thus, violations of such laws can lead to legal penalties. These types of claims are known as housing discrimination claims.
Housing discrimination cases are usually processed through your state’s Fair Housing agency or similar organizations. These are administrative bodies that specifically handle housing discrimination claims.
When filing with such an agency, you likely need to submit important information that will be helpful in proving your claim, including your contact information and a description of the alleged discrimination. Also, there will usually be filing deadlines for your claim (i.e., you must file within 1 year after the housing discrimination occurred, etc.).
In some instances, federal cases can be heard through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. You may however need to file at the state level before a federal investigation can take place. Lastly, you usually need to file with a state or federal housing authority before you can file a private lawsuit.
Laws also include “family status discrimination” or “familial status” under housing discrimination categories. Family status usually refers to whether an applicant has children or is pregnant. For instance, a property owner may not discriminate against a future renter simply because they have children. This is illegal under the Fair Housing Act and can lead to penalties.
Housing discrimination is serious issue that is regulated and enforced seriously. You may need to hire a real estate lawyer if you need help filing an equal opportunity housing claim. Your attorney can assist you with your case to ensure that you receive the legal remedy that you’re entitled to. Each state may have slightly different housing laws, but your attorney can explain your rights to you under your state’s rules.