Fair Housing Basics
Tenant - Landlord Facts
The Fair Housing law gives all persons in protected classes the right to live wherever they can afford to live. The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination and the intimidation of people in their homes, apartment buildings, and condominium developments – in nearly all housing transactions.
Ohio law prohibits discrimination based on the following “protected classes”:
· Race or Color – Religion – National Origin or Ancestry – Disability (physical & mental) – Family Status (families in which there are one or more children under 18, pregnant women and people in the process of adoption) – Sex – Military Status
Illegal activity (which includes housing, financing and insurance): No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, ancestry, military status, or sexual/gender orientation:
· Refusal to sell or rent housing
· Refusal to negotiate the sale or rent of housing
· Making housing, financing, and insurance unavailable
· Falsely denying that housing is available
· Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges (rent, security deposits)
· Refusal to make a mortgage loan
· Discriminate in appraising property
· Steering tenants to or from certain areas of a housing complex
· Steering prospective home buyers to or from certain areas of a community
· Discriminatory advertising
Exemptions to Ohio’s law includes:
· Religious, fraternal, and bona fide private organizations, which provide housing accommodations. They may limit the sale, rental or occupancy of a dwelling to their own members so long as the membership in the organization is not limited because of race, color, or national origin.
· Housing of older persons may exclude families with children if:
HUD has determined the housing was designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a federal, state, or local govt. program
Housing is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older or
It houses at least 1 person who is 55 or older in at least 80% of the occupied units and it adheres to a policy that demonstrates intent to house persons who are 55 and older.
· Owner occupied buildings with no more than 4 units and single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker are not exempt in Ohio.
Protections for those with disability:
If an occupant has a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS related complex and mental handicap) that substantially limits one or more life activities; and has a record of such disability or is regarded as having such a disability, a landlord may not:
· Refuse to let the tenant make reasonable modifications to the dwelling or common use areas at their expense, if necessary to use the housing (grab bars in bathrooms, ramps, lowered countertops)
· Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services if necessary to use the housing (mobility impaired may have a reserved parking spot near apartment, if possible and a building with no policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog, ground floor residence, service/assistance and companion animal)
· Service/assistance and companion animals are not considered pets. Housing providers are not allowed to charge a pet security deposit or a monthly pet fee. Rights of the housing provider: animal’s owner is responsible for damages caused by the animal – written prescription for the disability & description of the needed accommodation by a medical provider (you can verify that it’s a legitimate health professional writing the prescription - look up state licensing board and contact health professional and ask if they did indeed write the prescription), & request copies of animal’s health records. Can refuse certain companions if the animal will present undue hardship or expense for the landlord’s business (illegal exotic animals or dangerous animal breed or increase in insurance rates) and can still write warnings or even evict a tenant if the animal is disturbing others, posing a threat to others or causing considerable damage to the property.
· All new multi-unit construction designed or first occupied on or after March 13, 1991 must meet accessibility standards for persons with disabilities. There must be one accessible entry, access to public and common use areas, doorways and entry ways that accommodate wheelchairs, and accessible design features in units on accessible floors.
· Landlords can be very selective in choosing tenants, as long as they use the same set of criteria for all prospective tenants, based on such things as minimum income levels to be able to pay the rent, or behavior that would not disturb other tenants or damage property.
· Landlords can NOT maintain any quotas regarding types of people
· Examples of discrimination: the owner or manager refuses to tell you why the unit is not available, the rent or deposit is higher than advertised, the manager says the unit is rented but the sign is still posted, your application is refused without explanation, the manager asks about your marital status, nature of a disability or how many children you have
· The fair housing law prohibits advertising with a preference for any person or an intention to exclude any person because of a person’s race, religion, color, sex, disability, ancestry, family status, ancestry, or military status. The prohibition of discriminatory intent applies to the use of media, such as newspapers, radio, television, billboards and any written material produced in connection with the sale or rental of a dwelling, such as application forms, brochures, flyers, signs or posters.
40% of cases are dismissed for lack of evidence – so it’s important for individuals to write down information (what happened, witnesses, etc.) as soon as the incident occurs and file the complaint immediately.
If you suspect that you have been discriminated against refer to resources within the brochure: Contact our office and we can help you complete a complaint form to send to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission or Contact the Ohio Civil Rights Commission directly.
Ashley M. Siefker
Grants & Wages Coordinator
Putnam County Commissioners' Office
245 E. Main Street
Ottawa, OH 45875
Phone: 419-523-3656 - ext. 744