Are There Federal Laws that Protect My Same Sex Partner and I When Purchasing a Home

There are no federal laws that specifically protect LGBT when purchasing a home, although some federal agencies, states and municipalities do have laws or ordinances that protect LGBT against discrimination. For example The Federal Housing and Urban Development agency, HUD, implemented a rule in 2012 designed to make its core programs available regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. The rule applies to housing insured by HUD in its home ownership programs. There are some federal laws in place that protect all people when purchasing a home.

imagesFederal Fair Housing Act

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended, prohibits discrimination in 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).” http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/FHLaws

The Fair Housing Act applies to the sale of a home, mortgage lenders and homeowner insurance providers. This law can protect LGBT if the discrimination falls under one of the categories noted above. For example, if you feel that you were discriminated against because a seller falsely denied to you and your partner that the property was for sell because one of you is perceived to have AIDS, it could constitute illegal discrimination based on handicap under this law. While this may seem to be unlikely, some sellers have became attached to their home and are selective of who they would like to live in it.

The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Public Law 111-203, and Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989, FIRREA, Public Law 101-73

FIRREA requires appraisers to be licensed and that their appraisals meet the standards of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice created by the Appraisal Foundation. Appraisers are licensed by the state that they work in according to that states requirements. The Dodd-Frank law makes it illegal to attempt to influence an appraiser to assign a market value to a home that is not accurate. Influence means to bribe, coerce, instruct, collude, extort or intimidate. It also requires that you receive one free copy of that appraisal.

This law protects you by helping to ensure that you receive an appraisal that is not as accurate as possible. Appraisals must be based on the home and its location, the price comparable homes in the area have sold for and various other factors that can affect the fair market value of the home.

Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, RESPA, Public Law No. 93-533

RESPA is a consumer protection act that requires settlement services to disclose the costs associated with the service and outline their lender and escrow account practices. In addition, if the service is federally related, such as through HUD or FHA, the lender is prohibited from taking or giving anything of value to anyone for referrals or services. This particular section is designed to eliminate kickbacks or referral fees that may increase the cost of the loan. In addition, home sellers cannot require a purchaser to use any particular company to purchase title insurance.

This law helps consumers by potentially lowering settlement service costs and giving them more information so that they can shop around for the best prices for services related to the home purchase. Settlement services include, for example, lenders and title and homeowner insurance companies.

There are other federal laws in place designed to protect the consumer in real estate transactions. If you are in the market to purchase a home, you should hire an LGBT real estate agent. He or she will know all of the laws that relate to your purchase and will protect your best interests. You can find the best qualified LGBT agents by conducting a search in your area on GayRealEstate.com.

How Does Fair Housing Laws Affect Same Sex Couples

The Federal Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, basically prohibits the refusal to negotiate, rent or sell housing, deny a dwelling, set different terms and conditions, or provide different housing services or facilities based on race, color, national origin, sex, familial status or handicap. The Act may exempt owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without a broker, and housing that limit occupancy to members only by organizations and private clubs. There are currently no legal protections for LGBT under the federal fair housing laws.

downloadFederal Agency Protections for Same Sex Couples

Many states, municipalities and some federal agencies have statutes or ordinances that protect LGBT against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Sexual Orientation refers to an individual’s emotional or physical attraction to the same or opposite gender. Examples include straight, bisexual, gay and lesbian. Gender identity refers a person’s identification of themselves as man or woman regardless of the gender that they were born as or the sex listed on the birth certificate.

The Federal Housing and Urban Development, HUD, agency implemented a rule in 2012 designed to make its core programs available regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.  The rule applies to owners and operators of HUD assisted housing or housing insured by HUD in HUDs rental assistance and home ownership programs.

What this means is that the owners of any housing that is HUD assisted or insured through the Federal Housing Administration, FHA, cannot discriminate against same sex couples in rental and housing programs. FHA was made a part of the HUD agency in 1965 and FHA is required to follow HUDs rules and policies.

HUD has jurisdiction over LGBT individual and family complaints. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you should contact your local HUD office.

State and Municipality Protections for Same Sex Couples

The states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia have enacted fair housing laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Many municipalities in those states and in other states have enacted ordinances that prohibit discrimination laws based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

How Anti-Discrimination Laws and Ordinances Affect Same Sex Couples

The above outline of the anti-discrimination laws, ordinances and policies are designed to give you some insight into what protections may be available to you. As noted above, those protections vary by location and can be complex and hard to understand. If you would like more information, you should contact your local civil rights agency or an LGBT attorney.

If you are interested in purchasing a new home or seeking rental property, you should consider contacting a local LGBT real estate agent via GayRealEstate.com. He or she will be up to date on laws that may affect you and will have the knowledge and expertise to assist you in finding housing that is suitable for your needs.