Can you imagine being denied the ability to sell or buy a residential or commercial property due to your race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation? Unfortunately, this is a very real occurrence that the Fair Housing Act and Tennessee Human Rights Act are working to prevent.
Even still, in recent years, housing discrimination complaints have been on the rise. People of color and women faced the highest levels of harassment and discrimination in 2020 according to data by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA). Also notable was a considerable percentage increase in discrimination cases against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities (9%) and based on sex and disability (40%).
Discrimination can also take many forms when it comes to the housing market. A few examples include discrimination based on source of income, in residential appraisals, in mortgage lending, among others.
Understanding your rights and recognizing discrimination during the homebuying or selling process are the best ways to advocate for yourself.
With that being said, Rochford Law & Real Estate Title has put together an overview of the Fair Housing Act and information regarding real estate closings to educate and equip you.
Rochford Law & Real Estate Title is a title and closing company in Nashville committed to acting in your best interest, including protecting you from discrimination. Contact us today.
The Fair Housing Act, And Its Protections
At its core, fair housing champions an open market and equal opportunity for Americans who are:
Seeking housing assistance
Renting or buying a home/property
Applying for a mortgage
Engaging in other housing-related activities
The Fair Housing Act, then, provides protection by making discrimination and harassment in any part of the housing process illegal:
“It is illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing, including against individuals seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or in other housing-related activities. The Fair Housing Act prohibits this discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability.”
Refusing to rent/sell housing or negotiate for housing
Making housing unavailable or setting different terms & conditions
Falsely denying that housing is available for sale, rent, or inspection
Publishing any statement or advertisement of a dwelling that indicates preference, limitation, or discrimination
Failing to provide or delaying maintenance & repairs
Persuading a homeowner to avoid selling their home to a party of a protected characteristic (blockbusting)
Refusing to provide information regarding loans or financial assistance
Imposing different conditions on a loan (interest rates, points, fees)
Using discriminatory practices in property appraising
Denying the availability of a loan due to a person’s response to harassment
Threatening someone’s fair housing right, or retaliating against their complaint
In any of these cases, a renter or buyer can take legal action and file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development if he or she believes the reasoning was discriminatory. And if found in violation of the Fair Housing Act, the party at-fault can face serious financial penalties.
Discrimination & Real Estate Closings
A real estate closing is the final step in completing a residential or commercial property sale, given that inspections, money, and the property title are all in order.
While there are legitimate reasons for a seller to back-out of a contract – say, if a buyer is unable to secure financing or fails to make the down payment – a sudden change of mind during closing, on the other hand, can be a breach of contract and possibly a red flag for discrimination.
If any problems or disputes arise prior to or during your real estate closing, it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can protect your interests. At Rochford Law & Real Estate Title, trust us to resolve all matters of residential real estate law, including discrimination and harassment.