What Is Fair Housing?
- Familial Status (having kids or being pregnant)
- Public Assistance (MFIP, EA, GA, SSI, etc.)
- Sexual Orientation
- Marital Status (being married, single or divorced)
- National Origin
- Creed (beliefs)
- Age (St. Paul only)
- When you call on the phone, the apartment is available. But when the landlord sees the color of your skin, it is "already rented."
- The landlord says "no MFIP" or "no welfare."
- You get turned down because you have a disability, even though your disability would not keep you from following the lease.
- The seller says "no kids," but it is not a seniors-only building.
- The apartment manager treats the people who apply differently. For example, they tell people who get welfare they need an income of 3 times the rent, but they do not tell that to people with jobs.
- Your mortgage application is never processed because of your religion.
The caretaker makes repairs for white tenants before tenants of color.
The manager punishes lease violations more strictly if they are caused by children.
The landlord will not make a simple change in the rules to let a person with a disability live there successfully, like allowing a companion animal.
The real estate agent only shows you condos in certain neighborhoods but there are other units available.
- The caretaker pressures you to date him, and lets himself into your apartment.
- The security guard treats your visitors differently, because they are American Indian.
- The neighbors try to force you out of the neighborhood with racial insults or threats.
Very, very few homes are exempt from all fair housing laws. Some owner-occupied or religious-affiliated housing is not barred from discriminating against some classes of people. But even those owners cannot discriminate because of race and there are many other limitations on exemptions.
If you have experienced negative treatment and you suspect discrimination, you have options for enforcing your rights.
If you are being treated badly or harassed where you live, you could write a letter to the owner. Keep a copy of it and of any evidence of the discrimination. Try to have witnesses who can see or hear it and keep their contact information. Write down notes every time something happens. If the discrimination does not stop, or if you are in danger, call for help.
You can start a lawsuit to stop the discrimination and sometimes get money damages. If you need quick action to get an apartment you were denied, to stop harassment, or to avoid an eviction, a lawsuit may be your best option. If you have a low income, call your legal aid office. You can find what legal aid office serves your county here.
You can also look for help from government agencies that enforce housing discrimination laws. They will investigate at no charge to you. If they find discrimination, they will see if an agreement can be reached. If no agreement is reached, the agency may file a case against the person who discriminated against you.
In Minnesota, the government agencies are:
- Department of Housing and Urban Development - Enforcement of the Federal Fair Housing Act
- Minnesota Department of Human Rights - Enforcement of the Minnesota Human Rights Act
- Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights - Enforcement of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance
- Saint Paul Department of Human Rights - Enforcement of Federal Fair Housing Act and the St. Paul Human Rights Ordinance
- Duluth Office of Human Rights - Enforcement of local and federal fair housing laws