Have you ever gone to rent an apartment or home, and once there the leasing agent told you, “Sorry, we don’t have anything right now”? You could have sworn that they had advertised units were available. Maybe you felt that something about the exchange was wrong, Or even more unsettling, you suspect you’d been discriminated against. But what can you do?
HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity has launched two consumer videos to show what happens when a fair housing complaint is filed. In one video, “How to File a Housing Discrimination Complaint – What every home buyer and renter should know,” viewers are given the ABCs of the fair housing complaint process. In the second, “Fighting Housing Discrimination – One family’s story,” a family talks about what they went through after they filed a complaint.
Your have a right to search for housing without being discriminated in any way. This right is protected under Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, family status or disability. If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your housing rights have been violated, you can file a fair housing complaint with HUD.
But what happens after you file a complaint? Your housing discrimination complaint will be reviewed by a fair housing specialist to determine if the Fair Housing Act was violated. You will be contacted for any additional information needed to complete this review. If your complaint involves a possible violation of the Fair Housing Act, the specialist will assist you in filing an official housing discrimination complaint. You can read more about the process here, or watch the new videos, which show the process play out in an easy to follow manner.
Filing a housing discrimination complaint is the beginning of a process that leads to results. In 2012 and 2013, HUD received 3,577 housing discrimination complaints. Of these complaints, 40 percent were charged, settled, or referred to the Department of Justice for action. Over this same two-year period, HUD and its Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) partners obtained more than $425 million in compensation for victims of housing discrimination. HUD and FHAP agencies also obtained housing and public interest relief that included making housing available, reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, and modifying applicant and tenant policies so that they comply with fair housing laws. In addition, the Department of Justice recovered more than $2 million in damages and civil penalties in Fair Housing Act cases that were investigated and charged by HUD.
If you believe you have experienced housing discrimination you may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile app, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.
Fair housing is your right. Use it.
Elena Gaona is a Public Affairs Specialist in the Office of Public Affairs.