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Fair housing laws protect against discrimination

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2024 | Civil Rights

If you’re in the market for a new home in Michigan, are looking for an apartment to rent or are applying for a mortgage loan, you can expect fair treatment. You might find that you have made an offer on a house that another prospective buyer is also interested in. If the seller compares offers and decides to accept the other buyer’s offer over yours, it is not necessarily unfair. However, if the seller rejected your offer because of your race, gender or other identifying characteristic, you would want to review fair housing laws.  

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Title VIII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act into law in 1968. It is known as “The Fair Housing Act.” Under this law, no one can discriminate against you when buying, renting or financing a home in Michigan or any other state. It is important to know your rights and where to seek support to defend them.  

Fair housing laws are relevant to contracts and lease agreements 

Just because a landlord or homeowner agreed to rent or sell a dwelling to you doesn’t necessarily mean he or she hasn’t violated fair housing laws. For example, if the landlord charges every tenant in your apartment building the same rent but charges you substantially more, this might be questionable behavior. 

 Other issues that suggest discrimination include being denied maintenance and repairs when it’s offered to all other tenants as part of the rental agreement. It’s wise to carefully review any contract or lease agreement before signing it, especially if you suspect that a seller, mortgage loan officer or landlord is discriminating against you. 

Lying about availability 

Perhaps you see an ad for a house for rent, so you call to schedule an appointment. Upon meeting the landlord or property owner in person, you are unexpectedly informed that the dwelling is no longer available. You’re surprised to see the advertisement for the same home continues to run for several weeks. You suspect that it was available the whole time, but the property owner lied because of bias against you based on your skin color, weight, ethnicity or other issues.  

This is wrong, and it is unlawful. If you have been discriminated against by a Michigan landlord, seller, loan officer, etc., you’re entitled to file a fair housing complaint. If you do so, be prepared to provide evidence that proves discrimination. It’s best to seek legal counsel before pursuing a claim to ensure that you have built a strong case.