April is Fair Housing Month. Allston Brighton CDC wants to help you know your rights, understand what constitutes discrimination, and know how to report it.
Fair Housing is the right for everyone to receive equal access to housing and equal treatment throughout its inherent and related processes. Housing discrimination is a problem that happens daily in every state in the United States yet is severely under-reported; It occurs in more than two million instances each year, but less than one percent are reported.
Under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, it is illegal to discriminate in housing sales and rentals, as well as in housing lending and insurance, on the basis of some characteristics. The characteristics are known as protected classes and in Massachusetts they include: race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ancestry, genetic information, marital status, veteran or active military status, age, familial status (i.e., children), and source of income (i.e., Section 8 voucher).
Examples of behavior that may be housing discrimination include:
It is illegal to refuse to rent, sell, or negotiate for housing on the basis of the characteristics of a protected class or to make housing unavailable or deny that housing is available. It is also illegal to set different terms or conditions for a mortgage, home loan, homeowner’s insurance, or other real estate related transaction and to threaten, coerce, or intimidate anyone attempting to exercise his or her fair housing rights.
Even when illegal discriminatory actions are not intentional, they are still illegal. If a landlord or seller offers options to one applicant and not to another based on their membership in a protected class, it is illegal discrimination. If someone makes assumptions about potential tenants or clients – about their ability to pay, about their likelihood of being “good” clients, about their potential for causing problems – based on their race, disability, accent, family size, etc. – that is illegal discrimination.
If you believe that you have experienced discriminatory treatment, you may file a complaint with one of the following organizations: