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.

LGBT Housing Discrimination

LGBT housing discrimination can and does happen across the United States and includes actions such as denial of rental or lease applications, denial of home financing and eviction. There are no protections for LGBT under the federal fair housing laws. Some federal agencies and states have enacted laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and some municipalities within states that have no such laws have enacted ordinances that provide some legal protections.

imagesFederal Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD

In 2012, HUD implemented a rule that made it HUD policy to ensure that its core programs were available to individuals and families that were eligible regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. The rule was implemented following evidence HUD received that LGBT individuals and families were being excluded from housing in the private sector.

HUD’s antidiscrimination rule requires owners and operators of HUD assisted housing or housing insured by HUD to make housing available regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant or an occupant, whether a renter or owner. The rule institutes the policy in relation to HUDs rental assistance and homeownership programs, which include the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance programs, community development programs, and public and assisted housing programs.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against by a member of the HUD or FHA program, you should contact your local HUD office. That office has jurisdiction over LGBT individual and family complaints and will either conduct their own investigation, jointly investigate or refer the matter to state, district or local governments that have other legal protections in place.

States with Fair Housing LGBT Protections

According to the Human Rights Campaign, as of May 2014,  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 that include prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Note that Maryland’s antidiscrimination law will go into effect on October 1, 2014. The states of New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Municipalities with Fair Housing LGBT Protections

Some of the cities that have enacted their own antidiscrimination ordinances based on sexual orientation and gender identify include Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, New York, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Seattle. There are many more municipalities through the United States that have also enacted ordinances prohibiting discrimination against LGBT.

What You Can Do

Unfortunately, until the federal government revises its fair housing laws to include protections for LGBT, there is not much you can do unless you live in a location that does have laws or ordinances or you are looking for or living in homes or apartments insured by HUD.

You should be aware that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity may fall under another type of discrimination that is covered under the federal fair housing laws. For example, a prospective tenant is transgender and the property management company refuses to rent to him. This could constitute illegal discrimination under the fair housing act because of sex.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you should contact a local LGBT attorney. He or she will be up to date on the discrimination laws in your area and can advise you of the options available to you.

LGBT individuals and families who are interested in purchasing a new home or seeking rental property should contact a local LGBT real estate agent at www.GayRealEstate.com. For more information, please read our article titled Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Gay Realtor for your Home Purchase.