Fair Housing: It is Your Right!
Collier County is committed to ensuring residents are not discriminated in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings and in other housing related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability under Federal Fair Housing. Collier County is committed under Section 504 that no qualified individual with a disability should, only by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
If you feel you have been discriminated against and would like to make a Fair Housing or Section 504 complaint, please contact Kristi Sonntag with the Community and Human Services Division at 239-252-2486.
For all questions or inquires regarding rental assistance or Section 8 assistance, please contact the Collier County Housing Authority at 239-732-0732.
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, better known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA), made it unlawful to discriminate in any aspect relating to the sale, rental or financing of housing or in the provisions of brokerage services or facilities in connection with the sale or rental of a dwelling because of:
Race • Color • Religion • Sex • Disability • National Origin
• Familial Status (when there are children under the age of 18 and/or a pregnant women)
The Fair Housing Amendments of 1988 was enacted to strengthen the administrative enforcement provisions of Title VIII and it added prohibitions against discrimination in housing on the basis of disability and familial status. It also provides for the award of monetary damages where discriminatory housing practices are found. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency with primary responsibility for enforcing the Fair Housing Act. Since the passage of the FHA, there have been great improvements in providing equal housing opportunity. However, discrimination still exists, making the FHA an extremely important tool in fighting against housing discrimination.
Who Enforces the Fair Housing Act?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (OFHEO) enforces the Fair Housing Act and related laws that ensures access to housing. To file a Fair Housing Complaint online, go to www.hud.gov/fairhousing.
Fair Housing Laws
In addition to the Fair Housing Act (Title VIII), the following laws are also covered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:
• Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits racial discrimination in the sale or rental of real estate.
• Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination on disability in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
• Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, which expands coverage of Title VIII to include disability and familial status, and established design and construction requirements for new multifamily housing (as of March 13, 1991).
• Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against persons with disabilities in all programs, activities, or services of public interest. It applies to all State and local laws.
• Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibits discrimination in any aspect of a credit application on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or because all or part of the applicant's income comes from any public assistance program.
• Some State and local laws provide extended coverage not provided by Federal Law.
What Housing is Covered?
Under the Fair Housing Act, most housing is covered. However there are some exemptions, including the following:
Owner occupied building with no more than four units (such as a duplex where the owner lives in one of the units and rent out the other units)
1- A religious organization, association, or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society, from limiting the sale, rental, or occupancy of any dwelling which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose to persons of the same religion or from giving preference to such persons, unless membership in such religion is restricted on account of race, color, or national origin.
2- A private club not in fact open to the public, which as an incident to its primary purpose or purposes provides lodgings which it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose, from limiting the rental or occupancy of such lodgings to its members or from giving preference to its members.
3- Any single-family house sold or rented by an owner, provided such private individual owner does not own more than three single-family houses at any one time.
4- Single family home owners who rent or sell their homes without the use of a real estate professional
5- Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:
a-The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program.
b- It is occupied solely be persons who are 62 or older.
c- It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.
Property owners who are otherwise exempt from the law must still comply with its prohibition against discrimination in advertising. For example, a single family homeowner who is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act may not place an ad stating "No children allowed" or "Christians preferred".
What is illegal under the Fair Housing Act?
It is unlawful to take any of the following actions upon race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability (physical or mental) or familial status (when there are children under 18 and/or pregnant women):
1- Refuse to rent or sell housing.
2- Refuse to negotiate for housing.
3- Falsely deny that housing is available.
4- Provide different conditions, privileges, or services for the sale, rental, financing, or insuring of housing.
Additional Protection under the Fair Housing Act
It is also illegal to:
1- Advertise or make any statement that indicates a preference or limitation based on race, color,
national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
For example: Advertisement may not say "Christians preferred" or "no children allowed".
2- Threaten, force, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting
others who exercise that right.
Additional Protection for people with Disabilities
It is illegal to:
1- Refuse to let people with disabilities make reasonable to the dwelling or common use areas at their own expense. Landlords may require the tenants to restore the property to its original conditions when the tenant moves.
2- Refuse to make any reasonable accommodations to rules, regulations, and policies when needed, i.e. a person with a visual impairment may keep a guide dog regardless of a 'no pets' policy, because the dog is a service animal not a pet.
Additional Protection for Families with Children
Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with:
1- A parent
2- A person who has legal custody of a child or children, or
3- The designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian's written permission.
4- Familial Status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone who has, or obtains,
custody of a child under age 18.
Exemptions: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:
1- It is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local
government program, or
2- It is occupied solely by persons who are 62 years of age or older, or
3- It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units and
adheres to a policy statement that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.
Link's to other Resources
Disclaimer: Collier County has made every effort to provide accurate information. However, it cannot assume responsibility for any error, omission, or inaccuracy. Also, the Collier County cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by the following links.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development