A story involving blatant housing discrimination was covered by a major news operation in Columbus, Ohio recently. The landlord, who was recorded while talking on the phone, spouted very racist comments in regards to the type of people he wanted living in and working in his houses. Among many other horrific things, he said, "I need white tenants, that's my absolute stipulation." If housing discrimination were always this blatant, it would be easy to put an end to the problem. Unfortunately, most discrimination is subtle. It's up to you as a tenant or prospective tenant to watch out for the signs and report suspected discrimination. Following are some of the subtle signs of discrimination.
Some landlords quote illegal policies in order to avoid renting to certain tenants, so you must know the law. Examples of discriminatory policies include only having certain units or a limited amount of units available for tenants with children. If you have a service animal and the landlord refuses to rent to you based on a pet policy, it is also discrimination. Before applying for a rental property, become familiar with the Fair Housing Laws and Protections.
Preferential treatment is hard to spot because you're often not privy to conversations a potential landlord has with other interested applicants. However, if you do overhear a conversation and observe that the other party is getting treated much more fairly than you are, you should report it. If you already rent a home, and your neighbors are treated better than you, it may be discrimination.
Some questions should not be asked and certain statements should not be made during a conversation regarding a rental property. If you're asked questions about your religion or ethnic background, you should definitely report it. You should also report any unwanted sexual advances or references to your sexual orientation.
Change in Terms and Conditions
If a landlord makes changes in their terms and agreements after you meet them, you're likely being discriminated against. For example, if you were quoted a deposit of $500, and it jumps to $700 after meeting the landlord, something is suspicious. Changing credit score requirements can also alert you that there's a problem.
If you feel like you have been a victim of housing discrimination, you must report it to the Housing and Urban Development hotline at 1-800-669-9777. Do not confront the landlord. Instead, let the proper officials look into your complaints. To learn more, contact a firm such as The Law Offices of Douglas F. Fagan.