Perhaps you and your family have been in the market for a new home in Michigan and are having trouble finding one. It’s not because there are no houses available in your area that fit your needs, such as budget, square footage or location. Instead, you feel like there’s something more to the problem, something that seems to qualify as discrimination. Is a civil rights violation keeping you from securing a dwelling for your family?
It can be difficult to uncover a housing discrimination scheme because such behavior often occurs with handshakes, smiles and politeness. Discrimination occurs in all aspects of the housing industry, including rental properties, home sales and mortgage loans. The good news is that you don’t have to stand for it because the law is on your side, and there are resources available to help you hold discriminators accountable for their actions.
Types of housing discrimination
Michigan fair housing laws prohibit landlords, loan officers, real estate agencies and others from refusing to rent or sell property or secure a loan based on the identifying factors shown in the following list:
- A disability
- Family status
If you are already renting or buying a home but are experiencing harassment due to these issues, it is also a form of discrimination prohibited by fair housing law. The first step to take to resolve such problems is to gather evidence.
Things landlords, agents and others might say to discriminate against you
Gathering evidence of fair housing violations can be challenging, especially because discrimination and harassment often occur in seemingly benign ways. However, if people keep making comments or doing some of the things shown in the next list, you might be dealing with a civil rights violation:
- Is a landlord charging you higher rent than everyone else in the building?
- When you try to schedule a home showing, are you told that the seller took the house off the market?
- Has a lender said something like, “Another bank might be better able to meet your needs.”
- Does an agent keep trying to show you homes in a neighborhood you’re not interested in?
These are just some of many tactics people use when discriminating against prospective tenants or buyers in the housing industry. As for saying a house is off the market, if there’s still a sign in the yard or you’re still seeing it online, that’s a big red flag that something else is going on.
Do not hesitate to reach out for support
If you are trying to rent or buy a home, secure a loan or purchase homeowner’s insurance and you suspect discrimination, you can reach out for support from a trustworthy source who is well-versed in civil rights and fair housing laws. In Michigan and throughout the country, there are penalties for denying housing to someone based on identifying characteristics that place him or her in a protected category.