The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The act expanded on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discriminatory practices in housing sales, rentals, and financing. This federal law applies across the country, including all 50 states and U.S. territories.
It is the responsibility of anyone involved in a real estate transaction to know and follow the law as it relates to equal housing. It is an individual's right to receive a fair and equitable assessment of their ability to purchase or rent a property.
Read to discover the facts about who the law protects and how it impacts ownership responsibilities.
Understanding Equal Housing
The terms equal housing opportunity and equal opportunity housing refer to fair housing legislation. The law upholds that all individuals deserve to be judged fairly and receive equitable treatment regarding mortgage financing. It also ensures that renters and buyers are not subject to discrimination.
Under the law, prospective buyers and tenants cannot be subject to discrimination for certain characteristics.
- Familial status
- National origin
It is illegal to refuse to rent, sell, or finance property to a person based on any of these factors. It is also unlawful to encourage anyone to use discriminatory intent.
Owners or landlords cannot make false claims to deter someone from buying or renting a property, nor can they use threats or intimidation. It is also necessary for them to make reasonable accommodations to a property for individuals with disabilities.
Mortgage brokers cannot refuse to make a loan or impose new conditions or terms of a loan because of any of these factors.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enforces fair housing laws. Their office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) coordinates with state and local agencies to administer fair housing programs and monitor compliance.
Real estate agents, mortgage brokers, landlords, and anyone involved in a housing or rental transaction are subject to fines and penalties if found in violation of the law.
Florida Fair Housing
Fair housing Florida laws align with all federal regulations. Title XLIV Chapter 760 Part II of the Florida State Statues outlines the state's Fair Housing Act. Florida's law does not offer any additional protections as in some states, but it is possible that a specific county may have added language in its policy.
The local agency responsible for receiving and investigating complaints is the Florida Commission of Human Relations.
Federal fair housing law applies to most properties across the United States; however, there are some specific cases where a property may be exempt. Equal housing Florida exemptions include:
- A transaction that takes place without a broker and the seller owns less than three properties
- Properties with four or fewer units when the owner resides in one unit
- Property owned by religious organizations not used for commercial purposes
- Private members-only clubs
- A housing community that complies with 55+ requirements
If a property does not fall into one of these categories, owners must follow the federal fair housing guidelines.
Ensure that your real estate transactions are legal, equitable, and fair. Abiding by the Florida Fair Housing Act laws is the lawful way to do business as a broker, landlord, or owner and ensures accessibility and equal housing for prospective buyers and tenants.
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