History and Current Rules of Fair Housing

Posted on October 15, 2020. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Home Seller Tips, Homeownership, Informed Investor Alliance, Making Life Easier | Tags: , , , , , |

It’s important to remember and understand where we have been, to have the best future possible. Today I had the pleasure of attending Young Professionals’ Network webinar on The History of Fair Housing. 

Equality is an important topic of discussion in our country right now. One of the best ways we can honor our Constitution stating ‘all men are created equal’ is through housing. 

Not every race and color has had equal opportunities with real estate in America. It’s something to think about, since real estate is a cornerstone for wealth in our country.

For the purpose of learning and growing, let’s start with a summary of

Where we went wrong with discrimination in housing:

  • ‘Men’ in the quote above meant white men who owned property; not women, nor men of color
  • Real Estate boards prohibited women or blacks in the early 1900’s
  • Redline (racially segregated) areas where residents could not get a mortgage were established
  • Racially restrictive CC&R’s
  • Federal Fair Housing Act was not passed until 1968
  • Realtor Code did not prohibit discrimination until 1974 (that’s under 50 years ago…)
  • Protected class of marital status only recognized since 2005 in California
  • Gender identity was not protected until 2012 in CA
  • AFFA Rule is rescinded in 2020 by POTUS. This took the teeth out of Fair Housing enforcement.

Yes, we went horribly wrong, but there are many ongoing efforts to bring about equal housing in the last few decades and today. This includes lobbying efforts from the National Association of Realtors, and California Association of Realtors to bring back the important elements in AFFA. 

Did you know that nationwide there are 7 Fair Housing protected classes? In CA, there are 24 Fair Employment & Housing protected classes. When it comes to Fair Housing, the greater of regulations apply, not the lesser. So… if you are a landlord in California, you have 24 classes to remember to truly make unbiased decisions with your tenants. To help you, there is a new Fair Housing disclosure that is now included in each California purchase or lease agreement. 

Sometimes discrimination can be subtle, or without malice. Here are just a few examples of Discrimination in Housing…some may come as a surprise to you.

What Discrimination in Housing Looks Like:

  • Treating anyone unequally
  • Failing to show a home or lease 
  • Offering unequal terms 
  • Advertising specific terms or preference
  • Inquiring about a protected status
  • Refusing to accomodate a disability (aka emotional support animals)
  • Denying a family with children’s offer because you don’t think your pool or busy street is safe for them
  • Refusing to rent an upper unit to an elderly tenant because you feel stairs are too dangerous
  • Showing preference for one protected group above another (i.e. preferring a family with children over a gay couple)
  • Not renting the home to a family with multiple kids because ‘the children will destroy the home’.
  • Not treating everyone with the same professional courtesy (greetings, returning calls, tonality, response time)
  • Buyer or agent ‘love letters’; especially those with photos

Up until this year, I was an agent sending & receiving love letters. I had no idea they were an indirect method of discrimination; and our stories previously helped my clients get the deal. 2020 brings about many changes, and I am happy to adjust course to assist in offering a better opportunity for all. Please, encourage other professionals in the industry and owners to practice making selling and leasing decisions based on criteria that does not exclude. I will recommend future sellers do not read letters during the decision making process. We can all improve from here and be better at this. 

Here’s an interesting infographic with the most common Fair Housing complaints from 2018:

If you know someone who has been party to discrimination in housing, it’s important to educate, and to speak up. Here’s a link to submit a violation:

hud.gov/fairhousing/ 

The only way we change the cycle and truly offer equal housing to all humans is through a system of ethics, awareness of implicit bias, and accountability measures. Feel free to comment your thoughts or experiences below – let’s bring about some positive acknowledgment to build better, stronger, more diverse communities together. 

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