Most agents, and even most US citizens, are aware that there exists a non-discrimination law that covers housing in the United States. This was first established by the Fair Housing Act in 1968. It says that when dealing with housing "no one can be discriminated against based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap. Notice it does not mention "age". The penalties for violations of the Fair Housing Act are severe, to say the least!
To see a lot more information about the Federal Law concerning housing in general and the Fair Housing Act, you can CLICK HERE. Lots of good information for home buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants, and their agents can be found here. Answers to the questions many of you may have. You can also get contact information so you can call and speak with a HUD representative in person.
What many people do not realize is that not only do we need to remember the Federal laws, we also need to be aware of city, county, and state statutes/ordinances that may go even further in creating protected groups. None of these entities can weaken the Federal laws, but they can add to it.
Here is a case in point. On November 19, 2009 the City of Tampa, Florida put in place an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against transgender persons in many areas of life, including HOUSING. Several years ago they had also included age and sexual orientation under their protective umbrella.
Now, Tampa is located in Hillsborough County which has rejected such protections. So in the non-Tampa parts of the county you just need to follow Federal law, for the time being. But cross over the border into the City of Tampa, and you had better know who is protected and who is not. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a courtroom! You can see the Tampa ordinance that was passed on November 19, 2009 and signed into law by Mayor Pam Iorio by clicking on the following download link: Download Tampa's New Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Other governmental bodies may have created different sets of protections. It is a big country afterall!
Whether or not you agree with a federal, state, or local law, it would behoove you to follow it. Personally I dislike discrimination of any kind. Perhaps that comes from living in Europe for many years and learning to like a lot of people that I would have never associated with back here before I left. Many are still great friends of mine. I also on a few occasions was the victim of discrimination by some people who did not want to rent an apartment to an "Americano Yankee". Until you have experienced this for yourself, it can sometimes be hard to empathize with those on the other side of the street. I KNOW what it feels like from first-hand experience.
So whether you are an agent, seller, landlord, buyer or tenant, know what the your obligations and protections are. If you need legal guidance, contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development in your area or speak with a local real estate attorney.
But whatever you do, make sure you do not break the laws, no matter which governmental body enacted them. Not just to keep yourself from getting punished, but to make sure you are not unfairly treating a protected group. Treat others in the same way that you would like to be treated.
If you would like to contact me, call me at: 813-783-4444 or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org You are also welcome to visit my website at: www.jelwell.century21bnr.com Lots of useful information and links there.
John Elwell - REALTOR
Bill Nye Realty, Inc.
Licensed in Florida