Fair Housing

 
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Fair Housing

Realtors® recognize the significance of the Fair Housing Act and reconfirm their commitment to upholding fair housing law and offering equal professional service to all.

The Law

It is illegal to discriminate in the sale or rental of housing, including against individuals seeking a mortgage or housing assistance, or in other housing-related activities. The Fair Housing Act prohibits this discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. A variety of other federal civil rights laws, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, prohibit discrimination in housing and community development programs and activities. Virginia also has its own Fair Housing Act (§36-96.1 et. seq.) that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, elderliness, or familial status.

Resources for Realtors®

Fair housing is more than a list of dos and don’ts, rights and penalties, and mandatory continuing education. As stewards of the right to own, use and transfer private property, fair housing protects our livelihood and business as Realtors® and depends on a free, open market that embraces equal opportunity.

Guidance for Fair Housing Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In this video, get the tips and tools you need now to understand and comply with this important law:

Assistance Animals:

The Fair Housing Act requires property owners and managers to make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities, including allowing assistance animals. "Assistance animal" means an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability. Sometimes, the disability-related need for an assistance animal is not readily apparent or known to the landlord. In those cases, Virginia law allows the landlord to evaluate the requester’s disability-related need for the animal (Va. Code § 36-96.3:1(B)). NVAR offers several forms to assist members as they navigate the process. Members with questions can contact the NVAR Legal Hotline.

Code of Ethics

In addition to the law, Realtors® abide by the Code of Ethics. Article 10 imposes obligations upon Realtors® and is also a firm statement of support for equal opportunity in housing. Article 10 states:

REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Advertising

The Fair Housing Act, and other federal civil rights laws, make it illegal to discriminate in housing advertising and marketing. Examples of advertising that may violate the Act include phrases such as “no children,” which indicates discrimination on the basis of familial status, or “no wheelchairs,” which indicates disability discrimination. Housing providers also need to be careful not to use ads that say, "perfect house for couple," or "Christian family preferred." As a general rule, ads should not contain words that express a preference based on a protected class.

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Use the Equal Housing Opportunity Logo:


The Fair Housing Act itself does not require the use of Equal Opportunity logo or slogan, “Equal Housing Opportunity,” in any ad. However, using the logo regularly is good evidence of the company’s commitment to fair housing compliance. The equal housing opportunity logo is a picture of a small house with the words “equal housing opportunity” directly beneath it. Note that the small house picture cannot be used without the words “equal housing opportunity” beneath it, but the words can be used without the small house picture. Download the logo here. 

Resources for Brokers

Real estate brokers are subject to a web of federal, state and local fair housing laws that are intended to eradicate discriminatory conduct in the sale or rental of dwellings and promote residential integration.

To reduce risk, real estate brokers should consider offering comprehensive education and training of all sales associates and staff to ensure a thorough understanding of the obligations and prohibitions outlined in fair housing laws. This chapter of Real Estate Brokerage Essentials includes:

  • Identifying the sources of fair housing laws—federal, state and local—and prohibited conduct;
  • Advertising guidelines;
  • Developing a brokerage-wide compliance program;
  • Demonstrating your public commitment to fair housing;
  • Conducting agent trainings; and more.

Protected Classes

protected classes

If You Suspect Discrimination

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NVAR Professional Services

File a complaint through NVAR Professional Services: NVAR will accept complaints alleging violations of the Code of Ethics of discriminatory treatment in the availability, purchase or rental of housing.

Learn More.

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HUD

File a complaint through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) investigates complaints, which may be one or both of the following types: Discrimination under the Fair Housing Act (including housing that is privately owned and operated); Discrimination and other civil rights violations in housing and community development programs, including those funded by HUD.

Learn More.



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DPOR

If you believe you are the victim of housing discrimination, you may file a complaint by downloading the Housing Discrimination Complaint Form. 

Learn More.

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Terms to Know

  • Steering

  • Segregation

  • Bias

  • Disparate Impact