Stay Informed: What to Do When Homeowners Discriminate
Like all things, society evolves. Many things that were unfairly seen as “taboo” a few decades ago are now perfectly legal and generally accepted. This happened with interracial marriage, and in recent years we’ve seen it extend to the LGBTI community. The Supreme Court has ruled gay marriage legal in all 50 states, but does that mean the discrimination ends?
Not always. Unfortunately, there are still blurred legal lines where discrimination and some people’s religious beliefs are involved. Fair housing laws can be one of those areas.
State Laws Vary
Laws vary by state when it comes to protection for housing and the LGBTI+ community. Some states do have laws in place to protect the LGBTI+ community from housing discrimination. In these states, it may be easier to fight discrimination.
The states that do not have these laws may allow discrimination based on the landlord or home seller’s religious beliefs. This is sort of a gray area and court decisions in cases like this may vary from situation to situation.
Most landlords and rental companies will have standard tenant selection guidelines that all applicants must meet. If you feel that you meet all of the guidelines and are still denied housing, there may be something more going on that you could investigate. All that should really matter is meeting the guidelines that are on paper, and not a person’s race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Sadly, this is not always the case, and it’s good to stay informed on the laws in your area.
What Other Laws are in Place?
Those in the LGBTI+ community can potentially turn to Federal laws that are in place in order to protect themselves from discrimination.
You can check the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for examples of situations that are considered discrimination. Take action right away if you feel you are being treated unfairly.
What Else Can You Do?
If you feel you are being discriminated against, the first thing to do is talk to the landlord or home seller first. Keeping a civil relationship could be positive if you are still planning on living on their property, and there may be a misunderstanding occurring.
However, if you find you are likely being discriminated against, a second step to take is contacting the local housing authority and initiating an investigation into the problem. This often works better in states that have anti-discrimination laws in place, but even if not, launching an investigation into the issue can be worth it to raise awareness and spread the understanding that discrimination will not be tolerated quietly any longer.
If contacting the housing authority does not resolve the problem, or if you live in a state that is not covered by the anti-discrimination laws, you may want to contact a lawyer. Sometimes legal action can be the best way to stop the discriminatory behavior and there are steps a lawyer can take to help you right away.
No one deserves to be discriminated against for their sexual orientation, gender, race or religion. Unfortunately, many people still don’t agree. In a perfect world, we’d all judge a person based on their character, but until that day comes, we have to stay informed and try to protect one another.