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Housing Vouchers and Truthful Housing

Window to the Legislation: Housing Vouchers and Truthful Housing – Transcript

Hello, I’m Chloe Hecht, Senior Counsel on the Nationwide Affiliation of REALTORS®. The Housing Alternative Voucher Program, often known as Part 8, is a federal program that helps low-income households, individuals with disabilities, and the aged afford personal housing. There is no such thing as a requirement beneath federal legislation that housing suppliers settle for vouchers; nevertheless, many states and localities have added “supply of revenue” as a prohibited foundation for discrimination beneath their honest housing legal guidelines. Because of this, in lots of components of the nation, refusing potential tenants who use vouchers, or who pay lease with Social Safety Incapacity advantages, spousal assist, veterans advantages, or different lawful sources of revenue, might expose housing suppliers, together with actual property professionals, to honest housing legal responsibility, as illustrated by two current lawsuits in New York.

The federal Truthful Housing Act prohibits discrimination within the sale or rental of housing primarily based on seven prohibited bases: race, colour, nationwide origin, faith, intercourse, familial standing and incapacity. Many state and native governments have adopted their very own honest housing legal guidelines usually with extra protected classes. For instance, the Illinois honest housing legal guidelines embrace extra protected classes of being pregnant, ancestry, sexual harassment, age, marital standing, navy standing, unfavorable navy discharge, order of safety standing, and retaliation. The Metropolis of Chicago consists of the extra classes of lawful supply of revenue and parental standing.

The Housing Alternative Voucher Program offers qualifying people with funds overlaying the hole between the person’s revenue and their housing prices. For these states or municipalities the place supply of revenue is a further protected class, refusing an applicant as a result of they’re utilizing a housing selection voucher might represent supply of revenue discrimination. This kind of discrimination might embrace telling candidates that Part 8 funds should not accepted, asking whether or not the applicant is receiving any authorities help after which denying the appliance, and promoting items with phrases like “no applications” or “no part 8”. When supply of revenue is a protected class, the housing supplier might refuse a potential tenant provided that the tenant is disqualified beneath different screening standards, not as a result of the tenant is utilizing a voucher.

Current lawsuits in New York State, whose honest housing legal guidelines embrace supply of revenue as a protected class, illustrate these dangers. Housing Rights Initiative, a non-profit group targeted on housing points, used testers to analyze discrimination in opposition to low revenue tenants. In a single go well with filed in March, Housing Rights Initiative alleged that 88 actual property firms, together with brokerages, discriminated in opposition to low revenue tenants by refusing vouchers. The Housing Rights Initiative filed a second lawsuit in opposition to 36 housing suppliers after the same investigation in Westchester County, New York. 

These lawsuits illustrate that it’s crucial for actual property professionals to know and adjust to federal, state and native honest housing legal guidelines. Listed below are some finest practices to think about:

  • Overview your state and native honest housing legal guidelines to find out in the event that they embrace any extra prohibited classes, past the federal Truthful Housing Act. Needless to say in case your state consists of supply of revenue as a prohibited foundation, you threat honest housing legal responsibility should you reject tenants as a result of they use Housing Alternative vouchers.
  • Apply screening standards constantly to all potential tenants. Making use of extra stringent screening standards to these potential tenants that fall inside a prohibited class will increase your threat of a good housing violation allegation.
  • Lastly, doc your decision-making course of when refusing tenants in case a potential tenant alleges a good housing violation sooner or later.  Try NAR’s honest housing sources on

Thanks for watching this episode of Window to the Legislation.

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