Fair Housing Questions & Answers:
Q: What is Fair Housing?
A: Fair housing means you have the chance to choose where you want to live based solely on your ability to pay the rent or mortgage.
Q: What is discrimination?
A: Discrimination is when you are not treated the same as others, or you do not treat others the same, because there may be differences between you because of:
Q: If your family includes children under the age of 18, are there clues that indicate your family may have been discriminated against when looking for a place to live?
A: Yes, clues may be found in statements made to a family when they want to rent or buy a home. The statements below are examples of what is called familial status discrimination:
Q: How is a person with a disability protected under the Fair Housing Act?
A: A person with a disability is treated and protected in the same way as a person without a disability. Some people with disabilities may need reasonable accommodations or modifications to enable them to use and enjoy the housing of their choice. A reasonable accommodation is a change to any rule, policy, practice or service to allow a person with a disability an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a housing unit. A reasonable modification is a physical change to the living environment that allows a person with mobility impairments, equal access to their housing. Landlords receiving federal money may have to make modifications at their expense. Disabled tenants in non-federally funded housing programs must pay for modifications.
Some examples of reasonable accommodations and modifications are:
Q: How do Fair Housing laws apply to real life situations? Here are some examples:
John has been diagnosed with severe depression and is disabled as defined by the Fair Housing Act. His doctor prescribes John a dog to help alleviate some of his symptoms. John asks his landlord if he can have a dog as a reasonable accommodation for his disability. His landlord says yes, but tells John he'll need to pay a $250 pet deposit and must provide proof that the animal is trained.
Q: Did John's landlord correctly handle John's request under the Fair Housing Act? What if John wanted a cat or a ferret instead?
A: No, John's landlord did not handle his request correctly. The landlord cannot charge John a pet deposit for his animal because it is not a pet, but rather a service or assistance animal required for disability. Further, the landlord cannot ask for proof that the animal is trained and lastly, service/ companion animals do not have to be just dogs; they can also be other animals, such as cats or ferrets.
Tasha and Steve have two children and wish to rent a two-bedroom apartment at ABC Apartments. The manager tells them that they cannot rent there because ABC Apartments is for adults only. Tasha and Steve see 20 and 30 year olds living at the complex, but they see no children.
Q: Can the manager refuse to rent to them because they have children?
A: Unless ABC Apartments meet the federal criteria for senior housing (55+ and 62+) then the manager cannot refuse to rent to a family solely because they have children. Tasha and Steve could have a valid complaint under the Fair Housing Act.
Q: What should we do if we think our rights were violated and we were discriminated against while we were looking for a home?
If you live outside of the City of Rio Rancho, but in the State of New Mexico, please call the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD-Region VI) at (888) 560-8913. If you are hearing impaired, please dial 711. You may also file a complaint online via the HUD website.