Renting property can be a very stressful process. First you have to save up for moving costs (security deposits, application fees, move in fees, moving fees etc.). Then you need to find a place that you like and that you can afford. And then you have to go through the process of applying and having your application accepted.

It can become even more stressful if you keep getting denied on your application. Renters have rights! So, if this keeps happening to you, your rights may have been violated. Also, you can learn more about renters rights, renting issues, and what to do about them here.

Fair Housing Laws

Many laws seek to solve the problem of renter discrimination. The Fair Housing Act and the Fair Housing Amendments Acts are a few examples of these laws. These laws, as well as others, make it illegal for a landlord to refuse rental to a potential tenant on the basis of:

  • Race
  • National origin
  • Color
  • Disability
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Family status

Additional local and state laws protect potential renters from discrimination due to age, sexual orientation, and marital status. You are also protected against sexual harassment as part of the renting process.

More specifically, the following actions are prohibited by a landlord to a tenant or potential tenant:

  • Not renting to a member of a particular race.
  • Establishing unreasonable restrictions on how many people can live in the unit.
  • Denying the rental of an available unit.
  • Pushing people of a certain race to certain unfavorable units/keeping them from nicer units.
  • Creating a renter advertisement that states preferences or limitations.
  • Ending a renter’s tenancy become of discrimination.
  • Establishing different expectations or standards for certain renters.
  • Providing resources or services only for some tenants.
  • Not making reasonable accommodations for tenants who have disabilities.
  • Asking for sexual favors from tenants or creating a sexually hostile living environment.
  • Allowing some tenants to make discriminatory comments to others.

These prohibited actions extend beyond the landlord. They also apply to the landlord’s employees, any real estate agents, managers, and property owners.

While the Fair Housing Acts apply to many rental properties, they don’t apply to all rental properties. Excluded rental properties include owner-occupied housing, senior housing, housing owned by private clubs and religious organizations, and owners of single family homes.

Legal Rental Application Denial

Not all denials of rental applications are a result of discrimination, even if you are a minority. Landlords can legally deny applications based on the following factors:

  • Income
  • Credit history
  • Pets
  • References
  • Criminal convictions (only some types of criminal convictions apply)
  • Having a history of not paying rent

Getting Help

If you think you are the victim of a renting issue such as discrimination, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. A civil rights attorney can review your situation and help you take the next steps. So for more information, please contact my office.