Housing Discrimination

  What is Fair Housing?

 

 

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA) as amended, prohibits discrimination in housing based on your:

 

RACE

COLOR

NATIONAL ORIGIN

RELIGION

SEX

FAMILIAL STATUS

DISABILITY

 

It is also against the law to:

  • Deny a person rental or purchase of a single or multi-family dwelling.
  • Deny purchase of vacant land intended for housing.
  • Use discriminatory advertising and marketing for housing.
  • Set different terms, conditions on the sale or rental of a property.
  • Steer a person from renting or purchasing a property.
  • Coerce, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a person's enjoyment or exercise of their housing rights.
  • Retaliate against a person or organization that aids or encourages the exercise or enjoyment of fair housing rights.

 

Accessibility for Disabled People

The FHA requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations in policies and procedures necessary and related to a person's disability. Accommodations such as allowing services/support animals, assigned parking, transfer to accessible units, or early lease termination if necessary.

Modifications to property may be granted by the landlord if they are absolutely necessary and related to the person's disability. These modifications can be at the tenant's expense, and may require approval of such changes. If approved, such changes may also be required to be changed to its original condition.

Apartment and Condos built after March 1991 have to include the following:

  • Accessible routes in units, between units, around units and in common areas.
  • Reachable light switches, electrical outlets and temperature controls.
  • Wide doors, reinforced bathroom walls for grab bars.
  • Clear floor space in bathrooms and kitchens.

 

Exemptions to the Act:

There are exemptions to the Fair Housing Act. Only if:

  • The owner resides in the building and the building has no more than four units.
  • The owner does not own more than three single-family houses.
  • A single family home is sold or rented without the use of a broker.
  • The property is operated by organizations or private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

 

Filing a Discrimination Complaint

If you believe you were discriminated and want to file a complaint with the Elkhart Human Relations Commission (EHRC), be sure that:

  • The discriminatory housing practice has occurred or happened within 1 year.
  • The location at which such allegation happened is within the City of Elkhart's limits.*

 

The Investigative Procedure

Once a complaint is filed the EHRC has 100 days to resolve the case, in some cases it may take longer. The investigation shall be impartial and limited in each instance to the alleged discriminatory practice. Our files are confidential and the information gathered during the investigation will remain confidential.

The investigator will collect and summarize the facts. The investigator will collect the best evidence available for each side. Thus you may be asked to supply documents which support your position. The investigator may also seek information to compare the treatment given the complainant to treatment given to others similarly situated. We may call a "fact-finding conference", an informal meeting with the complainant and respondent, to discuss the issues and try to settle the case. The fact-finding conference is not a hearing.

 

Determination

After the investigation is finished, the investigator presents the facts to the director who reviews the material and makes a determination or Reasonable Cause finding or No Reasonable Cause finding that an illegal act of discrimination may have occurred. A Reasonable Cause finding does not mean the complainant won the case. The director then takes this information to the commissioners who take a vote on the case's Cause Determination. This is not the final decision, but is a finding that a discriminatory act may have been committed.

 

Conciliation

If the parties reach an agreement, the parties are given a chance to compromise their differences with negotiations through the director or a staff member. The EHRC can recover compensatory or punitive damages.

 

Public Hearing

The case is heard at a formal public hearing. The burden of proof is on the complainant. A designated hearing officer presides at the public hearing.

 

Final Order

A final order by the commission is binding. Either party may seek judicial review of the commission's findings.

 

Remedies

If the Commission finds discrimination, a final order may include a cease and desist order, require proof of compliance at periodic intervals and the complainant's losses and actual damages, which could include: moving expenses, storage expenses, travel costs, etc. The Commission may also impose a penalty.

 


 

* If the location is outside the City of Elkhart's limits, your complaint has to be filed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Develpment (HUD). Click on the icon below to access their webiste, they may also be reached by calling 1-800-669-9777 or TTD 1-800-927-9275.

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