April marks the 44th anniversary of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which strives to ensure equal housing opportunity for all. According to Little Rock REALTOR® Edward Loveless, chairman of the Arkansas REALTORS<sup>®</sup> Association Equal Opportunity Committee, REALTORS® are dedicated to advancing fair housing laws and eliminating discrimination, and can give their buyer and seller clients a wealth of resources and information about their rights and responsibilities under the act.
REALTORS® know that diverse neighborhoods and schools strengthen communities, and minority-group population growth is vital to sustaining housing markets. National Association of REALTORS® members have access to educational tools like the At Home with Diversity program. The course teaches REALTORS® about being sensitive to and aggressive in meeting the homeownership needs of a multicultural society.
The sale and purchase of a home is one of the most significant events that any person will experience in his or her lifetime. It is more than the simple purchase of housing, for it includes the hopes, dreams, aspirations and economic destiny of those involved. With that in mind I thought I’d share a bit more detail about the laws and responsibilities related to Fair Housing.
Civil Rights Act of 1866: The Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibits all racial discrimination in the sale or rental of property.
Fair Housing Act: The Fair Housing Act declares a national policy of fair housing throughout the United States. The law makes illegal any discrimination in the sale, lease or rental of housing, or making housing otherwise unavailable, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin.
Americans with Disabilities Act: Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in places of public accommodations and commercial facilities.
Equal Credit Opportunity Act: The Equal Credit Opportunity Act makes discrimination unlawful with respect to any aspect of a credit application on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age or because all or part of the applicant’s income derives from any public assistance program.
State and Local Laws: State and local laws often provide broader coverage and prohibit discrimination based on additional classes not covered by federal law.
The home seller, the home seeker, and the real estate professional all have rights and responsibilities under the law.
For the Home Seller: As a home seller or landlord you have a responsibility and a requirement under the law not to discriminate in the sale, rental and financing of property on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. You cannot instruct the licensed broker or salesperson acting as your agent to convey for you any limitations in the sale or rental, because the real estate professional is also bound by law not to discriminate. Under the law, a home seller or landlord cannot establish discriminatory terms or conditions in the purchase or rental, deny that housing is available or advertise that the property is available only to persons of a certain race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin.
For the Home Seeker: You have the right to expect that housing will be available to you without discrimination or other limitations based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin.
This includes the right to expect: • Housing in your price range made available to you without discrimination; • Equal professional service; • The opportunity to consider a broad range of housing choices; • No discriminatory limitations on communities or locations of housing; • No discrimination in the financing, appraising or insuring of housing; • Reasonable accommodations in rules, practices and procedures for persons with disabilities; • Nondiscriminatory terms and conditions for the sale, rental, financing or insuring of a dwelling; and • To be free from harassment or intimidation for exercising your fair housing rights.
For the Real Estate Professional: Agents in a real estate transaction are prohibited by law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. A request from the home seller or landlord to act in a discriminatory manner in the sale, lease or rental cannot legally be fulfilled by the real estate professional.
The Code of Ethics: Article 10 of the NAR Code of Ethics provides that “Realtors shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. Realtors shall not be a party to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin. Realtors, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin.”
IF YOU SUSPECT DISCRIMINATION
Call the ARA at 888-333-2206: We will accept complaints alleging violations of the Code of Ethics filed by a home seeker who alleges discriminatory treatment in the availability, purchase or rental of housing. Our state and local Boards of Realtors have a responsibility to enforce the Code of Ethics through professional standards procedures and corrective action in cases where a violation of the Code of Ethics is proven to have occurred.
Call the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Complaints alleging discrimination in housing may be filed with the nearest office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or by contacting them at www.hud.gov.
“People have a right to live wherever they can afford to live,” Loveless said. “For many families, homeownership is a stepping stone to prosperity and represents the American way of life. Fair housing means opening those doors for everyone in this country whose goal it is to own a home.”
House to House is written by Amy Glover Bryant, APR and distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS® Association. For more information about the ARA, visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.