Is The Fair Housing Act, Fair? April Is Fair Housing Month
In April 1968, at the urging of President Lyndon Johnson, Congress passed the federal Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, only one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The primary purpose of the Fair Housing Law of 1968 is to protect the buyer, or tenant, from discrimination. It makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent to, or negotiate with any person because of that person’s inclusion in a protected class.
Protected class is a term used in United States anti-discrimination law. The following characteristics are considered “Protected Classes”:
Race – Federal: Civil Rights Act of 1964
Color – Federal: Civil Rights Act of 1964
Religion – Federal: Civil Rights Act of 1964
National origin – Federal: Civil Rights Act of 1964
Age (40 and over) – Federal: Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
Sex – Federal: Equal Pay Act of 1963 & Civil Rights Act of 1964
Familial status (Housing, cannot discriminate for having children, exception for senior housing)
Disability status – Federal: Vocational Rehabilitation and Other Rehabilitation Services of 1973 & Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Veteran status – Federal Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974
Genetic information – Federal: Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
And much, much more…
HUD is the primary enforcement agency and you may view additional updates and information by clicking here; http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/FHLaws/yourrights
There are few things that are less tolerated than discrimination. Take some time to update yourself with HUD’s link above, you will learn a thing or two I am certain.
There are some times when sound underwriting decisions are in conflict with Fair Housing Laws
If a lender considers a women’s maternity leave as a reason for denial, they have violated the Fair Housing Laws. However, conversely, if they approve the borrower and they in fact do not go back to work and subsequently become delinquent on their mortgage, the lender may be in jeopardy of having to deal with other regulators for poor underwriting. This is a tough area.
On April 5, 2012 as reported in Housing Wire;
The Department of Housing and Urban Development reached settlements Thursday with Magna Bank and Home Loan Center, resolving allegations that they denied mortgages to women because they were pregnant and on maternity leave.
The settlement agreement signed by Nashville, Tenn.-based Magna Bank requires the bank to pay one woman $14,085 for allegedly requiring her to return to work before her loan application was approved.
Irvine, Calif.-based Home Loan Center agreed to pay a Las Vegas woman $15,000 for denying her application to refinance her mortgage because she was on maternity leave.
In conclusion, to answer the question the title of my post asks; yes, it is fair. In fact, it is more than fair, it is necessary. But, that does not mean that there will not be times when one must seek additional guidance from HUD, or a Fair Housing Attorney. This is cheap insurance to ensure compliance and promote a worthy law so righteously fought for and won after bloodshed and decades of massive pain.