Fair Housing Month: Know your rightsPublished 7:00am Wednesday, April 30, 2014
April is Fair Housing Month, which raises awareness of Fair Housing Principles and applicable laws.
While the most widely known laws were established in the 1960s, the efforts to make housing accessible to everyone without bias began with the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibited racial discrimination in the sale or rental of property.
Today the categories are clearer and expanded.
The laws are something that U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Board of Realtors take very seriously.
The National Board of Realtors as well as Pearl River County Board of Realtors have clauses in their sales contracts and literature that states the rights and responsibilities of the homeowner, home seeker and real estate agents.
The Pearl River County Board of Realtors issued a statement that said, “The Pearl River County Board of Realtors is pledged to the letter and spirit of the U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout its jurisdiction.
“The board encourages and supports an affirmative advertising and marketing program for all of its members, in which there are no barriers to obtaining housing because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Should a home seeker feel they have been discriminated against because of one of these issues, there are ways to address the situation.
If they are using the services of a realtor, there is a county grievance committee that they would have to file a complaint and pay a fee to have their case heard before that board, according to Martha Ford of Ford Realty, who sits on both the county and the state grievance committee.
Ford said that when the board hears the complaint, they check to make sure all files are in order before passing the case on to the state grievance committee.
Public Housing Authority Director Mary Davis said they are abide by the law, and there is a notice in their office that addresses fair housing.
Anyone who feels they have been discriminated against can call HUD and can file a complaint with them, Davis said. A person can call 1.800.669.9777 or TTY number 1.800.925.9275. HUD-9282 to file a complaint.
Flo Robinson of Rainbow Realty said there are many categories under which rights can be violated unless all parties are aware of their obligations and rights.