The federal Fair Housing Act does not protect against sexual orientation and sexual identity discrimination, prospective home buyers may be treated differently by finance companies, real estate agents, insurance companies and others. Some states and local governments and agencies do have laws that protect against discrimination based on same sexual orientation and sexual identity.
The four Fair Housing Centers in Michigan collaborated to conduct an investigation in 2007 to find out if same sex couples were discriminated against. They found that one in four same sex couples experienced discrimination at some point during the purchasing process. While Michigan does not have laws that prohibit such discrimination, other studies have shown that same sex couples are discriminated against even in areas that do have protections in place.
Home Buying Discrimination Examples
LGBT couples have been discriminated against during the bidding process and by inflated purchase prices. Others have been told that the home is no longer available, even though it was still listed for sale.
Real estate agents have steered same sex couples away from homes that heterosexual couples were encouraged to buy. Same sex couples were encouraged to buy only in known LGBT neighborhoods.
Same sex couples have been turned down by finance companies, even though they met the financial qualifications.
Insurance agencies have refused to put both partners’ names on homeowner’s insurance policies. Some insurance companies have refused to pay claims or have cancelled policies on the basis that the owners were unrelated, even though both names were on the policy.
What You Can Do
If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you should gather all of the documentation, including applications, letters and voice messages, related to the attempted transaction. You should then contact your local and state housing authority to file a complaint. There are generally limitations on the amount of time that you have to file a complaint, generally between six months and a year. If the home you would like to purchase is through the federal Housing and Urban Development, HUD, or Future Homes of America, FHA, you should contact HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
The best way to protect against discrimination is to know your rights. You should take the time to find out the federal, state and your local housing laws and policies. Contact a local LGBT real estate attorney. He or she can advise you of the laws that affect you and can help you fight the discrimination or win your claim against an insurance company.
If you are planning to purchase a home, you should contact a reputable LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com. He or she will know the laws affecting the LGBT community and can protect your interests throughout the home buying process.