Everyone is a Member of a Protected Class. Owning a home is fundamental part of the American Dream. Searching for a home should not be hindered by discriminatory practices. The only thing that should affect your ability to buy a home is whether you can afford it, not who you are.
The Fair Housing Act protects you from being discriminated against in the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of housing based on your protected class.
Protected classes include:
- National Origin
- Familial Status
- Military Status*
- Sexual Orientation**
Equal housing means you can choose the neighborhood you live in, because where you live often determines your access to quality education, employment options, reliable transportation, and safe, healthy environments.
Discriminatory practices in real estate sales or lending can have a harmful effect on our community. Unfair policies reinforce segregated living patterns and prevent the creation of diverse neighborhoods. Local economies may suffer from decreased property values, loss of tax revenue, reduced population, and diminished business activity. Decreased homeownership threatens the stability and strength of our communities.
Fair housing rights protect our neighborhoods from these discriminatory practices, and foster the creation of stable, inclusive communities of opportunity.
* state protection
** local protection
Discriminatory Housing Practices Defined
Persuading owners to sell their homes based on a fear that members of a protected class are moving into the neighborhood. This is a scare tactic practiced by some realtors.
Directing prospective home buyers to certain neighborhoods based on their membership in a protected class. Discouraging home buyers from considering certain neighborhoods by exaggerating drawbacks or failing to mention amenities. Unwillingness to show homes in all areas.
Unwillingness to sell homes or offer home loans in particular neighborhoods or geographic regions due to the race or ethnicity of the residents.
Predatory Lending and Reverse Redlining
Loans with abusive terms and conditions put borrowers at risk of losing their homes. Such loans may be discriminatory if they are targeted towards borrowers or neighborhoods that are members of a protected class.
Predatory loans take advantage of borrowers who are unfamiliar with the banking system or have difficulty obtaining a traditional bank loan. Signs of a predatory loan include:
- Charging excessive interest rates and higher fees.
- Failing to disclose the true cost and terms of the loan.
- Approving a loan without considering a person’s ability to repay.
- Convincing borrowers to frequently refinance the loan.
- Carrying terms that make it difficult to refinance the loan.
- Balloon payments and prepayment penalties.
Make it fair – we can help!
Housing professionals play a key role in fair housing and equal opportunity. How we promote and sell housing, mortgages, or insurance affects more than the real estate market. When done fairly, it can support diverse and welcoming neighborhoods, and it gives everyone equal access to the full range of housing options. Even with the Fair Housing Act and other laws in place, achieving fair housing can be a complex task. We want to prevent housing discrimination in the first place, and we believe everyone-especially real estate agents, lenders, insurance agents, and landlords-can play a role.
Connect With Our Educational Opportunities
We are also available to train real estate agents, advocates, municipal officials, planners, other housing professionals, co-op boards, and condominium associations on their fair housing obligations as well as the rights of their clients and residents. Seminars can be held for staff at their location of choice throughout the greater Pittsburgh area. Our agency offers consultation on fair housing issues. The Fair Housing Partnership offers a wide variety of educational services for housing professionals. These services range from one-on-one technical advice over the phone to general or specialized trainings, and even extend to community-wide events. Learn more about our Educational Services or view a calendar of our Upcoming Events and Trainings.
Research Best Practices
The Fair Housing Center wants to work with housing providers to ensure that housing discrimination is prevented before it happens. You can ensure that you prevent housing discrimination and further fair housing by implementing fair housing best practices whether it be in advertising, design and construction, lending, rental, sales, etc. Visit the Publications page as we continue to provide information, guidance and resources.
Learn More About Fair Housing Laws
Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination in housing transactions based on: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, disability, marital status, and age. Laws in some communities add protections on addtional bases, such as source of income and sexual orientation. Learn about the laws in “What is Fair Housing?” or access an overview and links to the full text of federal, state and local fair housing laws
Review and Download Educational Materials
While the actual laws surrounding fair housing may not change very frequently, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new things to learn or areas to increase expertise. Stay up-to-date with fair housing information regarding guidance and implementation of fair housing laws, rules, and regulations. Visit Publications to find Fair Housing Center brochures and fact sheets, HUD memorandums, and other guidance materials.