Equal Housing Opportunity: Real Estate Responsibilities and Laws

Equal Housing Opportunity
Image source: Desoto County BOCC

When it comes to the search and financing of housing, everyone deserves equal treatment. Several laws have been enacted over the years to secure and maintain the right to equal opportunity housing, among other rights. When advertising for real estate, rentals, financing, lease of properties, and apartments, the Equal Housing Opportunity (EHO) logo is the most commonly used symbol. This shows that one does not discriminate. In light of these, this article will guide you on what you need to know about equal housing opportunity and the responsibilities it creates for housing apartments, rentals, appraisals, and homeowners in a real estate transaction.

What Is an Equal Housing Opportunity?

Equal housing opportunity means that everyone has the same right to treat one another equally when it comes to home financing decisions.

They provide equal opportunity housing as part of multiple pieces of legislation. It is illegal for homeowners to discriminate in the sale, renting, or financing of housing on the basis of any of the following qualities below:

  • Race
  • Creed
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Sexual orientation
  • Military status
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Familial status

However, despite the fact that these variables are prohibited in housing and financing decisions. Parties occasionally violate these rules and regulations whether intentionally or unintentionally. 

The equal housing opportunity logo is usually seen in display ads with a size of 12 × 12 inches and a column width of four inches or more. The non-discrimination clause is used in very large advertisements, such as those that highlight agent(s) or a company’s dedication to Fair Housing. Also in special situations where a company’s name could be misinterpreted as indicating a preference for a particular type or class of people. An apartment complex promoting the general public in any way should display the equal housing opportunity-discrimination clause. In addition to the customary use of the equal housing opportunity logo, advertising is used to ensure that no one believes the apartment complex has a religious prejudice.

Finally, the equal housing opportunity logo, slogan, or non-discrimination clause should be set to no less than the ad’s smallest font size. The use of this symbol indicates that the person does not discriminate. This is in keeping with the Fair Housing spirit.

Equal Housing Opportunity Slogan

“Equal Housing Opportunity”(seen in many smaller classified Logo ads)

Sample EHO Nondiscrimination statements

“We do (or the name of the company) not discriminate based on ancestry, race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin, or military status”.

The Miami Valley in Ohio adds ancestry and military status to the federally protected classes, the sample above includes these extra protections. More statements include:

  • If you’re in Yellow Springs, include your sexual orientation.
  • If you live in Dayton, include your age, marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
  • Check with your local government to see if there are any further protected classes.

Equal Housing Opportunity Apartments

Equal housing opportunity apartments enacted several laws to ensure equal housing opportunity in housing for rentals when it comes to buying, selling, or leasing a property or renting apartments. In the sale or rental of property, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 forbids all racial discrimination. Furthermore, the Fair Housing Act establishes a national policy of fair housing throughout the United States. Making discrimination in the sale, lease, or rentals, or in making equal opportunity housing unavailable, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin illegal.

Other laws also have an impact on the purchase, sale, or lease of a home or apartment. The Americans with Disabilities Act, Title III, forbids discrimination against people with disabilities in public places and commercial complexes. There is no discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age.  Since the applicant’s income comes entirely or partially from a public assistance program

Furthermore, state and local laws frequently extend equal housing opportunity to federal law coverage and ban discrimination in additional classes that federal law does not cover. Many states and communities, for instance, incorporate explicit anti-discrimination provisions depending on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Discrimination against a potential tenant’s source of income is also illegal in certain states and localities. This means that a landlord cannot refuse to rent a property because a possible tenant intends to pay rent using a subsidy or a voucher, such as a Section 8 voucher. It is also unlawful in certain states and cities for landlords or housing providers to post advertisements or postings that dissuade tenants from applying for subsidies (e.g., “no vouchers” or “vouchers not accepted”).

Equal Housing Opportunity: Responsibilities for Homeowners

As a home seller or landlord, you have a legal obligation not to discriminate the race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial position, or national origin. You must ensure equal housing opportunity on the sale of rentals and financing of apartments.  Since the law requires that the real estate professional should not discriminate. You cannot tell the licensed broker or salesperson working as your agent to impose any limitations on the sale or rental for you. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial position, or national origin is also illegal in real estate transactions. The Law does not allow them to comply with a house seller’s request.

Furthermore, a home seller or landlord may not impose discriminatory terms or conditions in the sale or rental of a home. To deny that housing is available, or advertise that the property is only available to people of a particular race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.

Equal Housing Opportunity Rentals

You have the right to anticipate that housing will be available to you without discrimination. Or other limits based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin whether you are looking to buy a house or rent an apartment. This includes the right to expect equal professional service and the ability to consider a wide range of housing options. Also the absence of discriminatory community restrictions.

There is no discrimination in housing financing, appraisal, or insurance, reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, and processes for people with disabilities. And also freedom from harassment or intimidation for exercising your fair housing rights. You also have the right to expect that housing will be available to you without discrimination based on additional factors such as your source of income in many states and cities. This means that a landlord cannot refuse to treat you unfairly because you intend to pay your rent using a voucher.

Equal Housing Opportunity: Responsibilities Of The Appraiser

When you buy or refinance a home, you’ll get a home appraisal to see how much it’s worth. Because the home is used as security, lenders will not lend you more money than the house is worth. Appraisers assess your home’s condition and assign a value depending on recent sales of similar properties in your neighborhood.

In reality, if you have a three-bedroom ranch, your property is comparable to recent sales of three-bedroom ranches in your region. They can be a mile from yours, depending on population density. Although bias is unlikely to be pervasive, it does occur from time to time. 

Equal Housing Opportunity: Responsibilities Of The Real Estate Agent

These nondiscrimination standards apply to you as a real estate agent as well. If a buyer wants to look in a specific region, you must show them the available properties. You will negotiate on their behalf if they decide to make an offer.

You can’t legally refuse to show individuals certain regions because you think the inhabitants in the neighborhood won’t be accommodating. for instance, you may not serve only certain races because of their sexual orientation.

What Should You Do If You Fall a Victim of Discrimination?

Below are some things you need to do if you feel you are a victim of discrimination.

#1. Make Efforts to Reach an Agreement With the Offending Party.

No enterprise, home seller, or landlord wants a bad reputation. There may also be times when they are completely unaware of what is going on. The first step would be to try to solve the problem. If that doesn’t work, you can try a different approach.

#2. Write A Complaint to the Oversight Agency

Determine whether authorities or oversight bodies have a responsibility for the entity in question. It’s possible that there are several agencies in it. Unless specifically exempted, home sellers and landlords are subject to HUD regulations. You can submit a complaint with HUD if you believe you are a victim of discrimination against the housing market. Your complaint will be reviewed by the agency, and if necessary, the agency will initiate an investigation

Mortgage brokers, like real estate agents, can obtain a state license. You can also discuss the businesses with which they are associated. Many people belong to professional associations with ethics committees. Government authorities, in particular, may have the authority to act on your behalf in the event of discrimination. Don’t be afraid to contact government authorities at all levels, including the federal, state, and municipal levels.

#3. Be Aware of the Possibility of A Poor Appraisal

If you want to challenge an appraisal, you’ll need to show that the appraiser used properties that aren’t comparable to yours. Or the appraisal did something else that would materially call into doubt their assessment of the home’s value. Your real estate agent can assist you in locating comparable properties. Nonetheless, there are several instances of discrimination in the appraisal process.

You have to contest the assessment through your lender, who will assess the appraisal as well as your supporting paperwork. This is to determine why you believe it is incorrect. If there are any issues with the appraisal, a second independent assessor is dispatched.

4. Retain the Services of a Lawyer.

If you believe this is serious enough that you should consider bringing a lawsuit. You should consult an attorney because they will be able to talk to you about what legal options you could have.

#5. Use Social Media to Air Your Complaints.

Discriminatory conduct on social media can be a strong technique for drawing attention to it. Many social media sites can also assist you to connect with individuals who have been a victim of discrimination in a real estate transaction. This does not limit property owners, real estate agents, or lenders.

Conclusion

The more specific you can be in your account of experience, the more likely it is that someone will be able to act on your complaint. It’ll provide them with the necessary information on what’s going on. Equal housing opportunity rules and regulations for rentals and financing ensure that no one can buy or rent their apartments on discriminatory characteristics such as; race, gender, national origin, or handicap. You should submit a complaint with HUD and your state’s attorney general if you believe you fall victim to discrimination.

Equal Housing Opportunity FAQs

How do I qualify for housing in Florida?

You can qualify on the basis of citizenship or eligible immigrant status of family members. All people (18 years and older) must pass a criminal background check, and have income equal to or less than HUD-specified income restrictions.

What is the Florida Fair Housing Act?

Florida residents have the legal right to rent or own their home regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, handicap, familial status, or religion.

Can you be denied housing because of a felony in Florida?

When applying for housing, felons may face discrimination. A landlord has the power to decline an application if he considers the applicant’s criminal history will jeopardize his or her community. People do, in fact, discriminate against one another on a regular basis. This is common in Florida and a large part of the US.

Is Equal Housing Lender legit?

The terms equal housing lender and equal opportunity lender are similar and relate to all banks in the United States that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, or familial status is illegal in such institutions.

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