Civil Rights: Housing FAQ

Are you looking to buy a house? There are many federal laws that protect you from discrimination during the housing process. Some important laws include the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The US Department of Justice provides information on its website about these laws. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about civil rights during the housing process.


Q: How does the Fair Housing Act protect me while I am looking for an apartment or house?

  • A:

    The Fair Housing Act protects you by prohibiting discrimination by many of the people involved in the housing process. This includes landlords, banks, real estate companies and insurers.


Q:

What types of discrimination are covered under the Fair Housing Act?


  • A:

    Discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, familial status or disability is prohibited under the Fair Housing Act.


Q:

What agency enforces the Fair Housing Act?


  • A:

    The US Department of Justice can enforce the Fair Housing Act by bringing lawsuits against people or entities that commit discrimination. It can also begin criminal proceedings if there was force or a threat of force that was used to commit housing discrimination.


Q:

I believe I was the victim of housing discrimination. What should I do?



Q:

Are there time limits to filing a Fair Housing Act discrimination complaint or lawsuit?


  • A:

    You have two years from the act of discrimination to file your own lawsuit. You only have one year to file a complaint with HUD.


Q:

Can sexual orientation be used as a reason to discriminate under the Fair Housing Act?


  • A:

    The Fair Housing Act doesn't prohibit discrimination based solely on sexual orientation. However, there are many state and local laws that do prohibit this type of discrimination.


Q:

How does the Equal Credit Opportunity Act protect me while I am looking to purchase a house?



Q:

What types of discrimination are covered under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act?


  • A:

    Discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, marital status or source of income is prohibited under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.


Q:

How does Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protect me?



Q:

What agency enforces Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?


  • A:

    The US Department of Justice can enforce Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by bringing lawsuits against people or entities that commit discrimination. However, money damages can't be obtained for individuals, unlike lawsuits brought under the Fair Housing Act or the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.



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