Tenants who believe they’ve been unfairly treated can file a complaint with the Housing Discrimination Complaints Commission.
The bureau investigates complaints about housing discrimination, and it can take action against landlords, contractors, landlords, and landlords-tenants, if necessary.
The commission can also charge landlords, tenants, and tenants-tenant with violations of the act, and fines up to $1 million for violations.
The law does not prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to tenants based on their race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, ancestry, marital status, or age.
Tenants can file complaints about their landlords, however, if they don’t feel that their complaint is being taken seriously by the local housing authority.
Here’s what you need to know to file a tenant complaint.
What is the Tenant Housing Discrimination (Tenant) Discrimination Act?
The Tenant Discrimination Act was passed in 1946, and requires all rental housing built after that date to be designed and constructed so that “all persons of all races, ethnicities, national origins, and ages, and all persons who are of a similar background are able to live in the same dwelling unit in a manner and with respect for which their housing is constructed.”
The act also prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex or national origin on the ground of race or national origins or because of ancestry, religion or ancestry.
The act applies to rental housing in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but it is especially applicable in rental housing constructed after 1947, which is when most rental housing was constructed.
The federal law requires landlords to make reasonable accommodations for tenants, including making sure that: “Tenants are not discriminated against on the grounds of race; gender; religion; or national or ethnic origin, or for other reasons.
Inclusion of any racial or ethnic minority or a religious minority in rental units, including on a full or partial basis, is prohibited.”
Tenants also have the right to equal opportunity to live and work in the rental housing unit, including to have access to a variety of facilities.
How does the Tenants Housing Discrimination Compliance Act apply to my rental property?
The act requires landlords and tenants to take reasonable measures to ensure that: Tenants of all ethnic and racial backgrounds have access, including at reasonable times, to a reasonable variety of amenities in their rental units and to the services provided to tenants, as determined by the unit’s landlord.
Tenant of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have equal access to the facilities and facilities of the unit, as they would if they lived in their own building.
Tenanted of all sexual orientations and gender identities are allowed access to facilities, including a bathroom, shower, and kitchen.
Tenancy of all gender identities and sexual orientities are allowed to have equal facilities.
Tenent of all sex and sexual orientation are allowed, in their housing units, to use facilities that conform to their gender and/or sexual orientation, as long as they are not located in a different unit.
Tenents of all religious orientations are allowed the opportunity to use the bathroom and shower facilities of their unit, and to use all of the services and amenities provided to other tenants of the housing unit.
For example, a transgender person might be able to use a locker or shower room in their unit.
Where can I file a claim?
There are a number of online resources to help you navigate the law, including: Legal Aid’s tenant guide, which can help you understand the law and help you file a landlord-tenancy discrimination complaint, or contact your local Legal Aid agency.
You can also contact your state’s housing commissioner.
Tenure laws are complex and can vary by state.
The Federal Housing Administration website has more information.
What if I’m not sure where to file my complaint?
You may want to consult with an attorney or legal aid attorney who is familiar with your situation.
Some of the best resources to consult include: Legal Services America’s Tenant Legal Education Guide, which provides information on tenant law in your state.
Legal Aid and the National Center for Fair Housing also have information on their Tenant and Disability Rights website.